Topic: Schools (63)

Council Advised Against Talking to the Public

County attorneys advise elected officials NOT to talk to us.

County attorneys advise elected officials NOT to talk to us.

By

I received a disturbing e-mail from County Councilmember Kaylee Galloway regarding the Geneva Cell Tower situation. I’ve written about it twice on NWCitizen, here and here. I want to say up front that Kaylee Galloway has been the most responsive of our County Council members. Tyler Byrd is the rep. for most of us in Geneva and he has been good too, until about three weeks ago. I recently found out why.

Kaylee wrote to tell me that, in short, the county’s attorneys had “advised” elected officials not to talk to the public about the cell tower issue. But they did want elected officials to talk to our “corporate citizens” at big telecom and their big money donors; just not us pesky citizens who pay their high salaries through their ever increasing taxes.

You should absolutely continue to engage our elected officials. It is imperative that we do so.

I have seen this tactic before. Since the attorneys can't tell our elected officials not to talk to us, they "strongly advise" instead. Then it's technically not a violation of First Amendment rights. I want to be clear: The attorneys I'm referring to are the public attorneys who work for the county and we pay for with our taxes, like Craig Ostrom for instance. 

So apparently, we are paying our public attorneys to advise our elected officials NOT to talk to us about topics that affect our lives in Whatcom County. To me, this seems to defeat the purpose of having elected officials since talking to us about our concerns is exactly what they're supposed to do. Acting on our concerns would be even better. 

But let’s be honest, our elected officials are all about protecting big corporations before listening to their citizens. In fact, during the pandemic, Bellingham City Council literally removed their public comment period just to let us know they view our right to interact with their government as a mild suggestion. Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District (LWWSD) reduced their individual public comment time to 90 seconds. And now the county is opting out of citizen input and meeting exclusively with big telecom. 

Having almost 30 years of IT experience and eight years working on broadband issues here, I’ve had ample opportunity to interact with local elected officials. Here’s a synopsis:

Tyler Byrd: Talked to me until about three weeks ago when, most likely, our county attorneys told him to stop.

Kaylee Galloway: Although the most responsive, she will stop talking to the public as advised by the county's attorneys. Kaylee was supposedly working on a Dig Once policy, but after being pushed by the Shewmake Cartel, she seems to have stopped. This sad little club now appears to include Whatcom Democrats Chair Andrew Redding. 

Kathy Kershner: Is pro-tower and has never talked to me about broadband issues.

Ben Elenbaas: Has never said anything useful on the topic of broadband.

Todd Donovan: Has never said anything useful on the topic of broadband.

Carol Frazey: Has never said anything useful on the topic of broadband.

Barry Buchanan: Has never said anything useful on the topic of broadband.

Satpal Sidhu: Has (ab)used his position in order to give money to big telecom during the pandemic. He continues to block a Dig Once Policy, real testing, and any actual progress. He prefers wireless solutions, like the DISH tower, and Starlink, and refuses to learn what he doesn’t know. He now believes he understands broadband better than the rest of the developed world. (See my other recent article). 

So again: Please continue to engage our elected officials whether they want your input or not. We elected them to represent our needs and wishes. Better yet, let’s stop reelecting the same people. After all, anyone that was in power during the pandemic abandoned us during the pandemic. Let’s apply some common sense and stop reelecting people with a proven track record of putting corporate citizens before their own. 

About Jon Humphrey

Citizen Journalist • Bellingham • Member since May 23, 2017

Comments by Readers

Carol Follett

Jul 31, 2022

This silencing of our representatives reminds me of our struggle to stop the coal port at Cherry Point. The county Attorneys did the same thing and silenced the conversation. However, there were so many informed, reputable and reliable groups sharing information, we talked and pressed for environmental protection, regardless of their stance and the corporate powers behind them. Even at that, if it were not for the strength and integrity of the Lummi Nation, we would have that added environmental blight in our community now. They are our best allies in any work for justice. Where do they stand on this issue?

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Liz Marshall

Jul 31, 2022

Would we have ever known that County lawyers offered this advice if Jon Humphrey had not informed us? 

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Bill McCallum

Jul 31, 2022

 

 

Mr. Humphrey: In the email to you from Kaylee Galloway did she say why “... the county’s attorneys had “advised” elected officials not to talk to the public about the cell tower issue”?

 

 

 

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Jon Humphrey

Jul 31, 2022

Thanks everyone, I will respond in two seperate comments.
Comment 1 will focus on the e-mail from Kaylee. Comment #2 will focus on interactions with the Lummi and Tulalip tribes over the years. In short, Debra doesn’t really want to learn about broadband even though the Tulalip tribe has their own, community built, fiber network that serves Quil Ceda Village, the tribe and the casino and offered to help other tribes. We offered to help extend the fiber resources already available at the Northwest Indian College free of charge. Unfortunately, the tribe was directed to Satpal, Grant, Fix and others who kept pushing them towards special interests that provide more expensive, less useful services that are awful for the environment. You know, the usge for Whatcom County. (I’ll expand on this in my 2nd comment.)
Here is the e-mail:
“I appreciate you keeping me up to speed on the Geneva cell tower situation. Since this is a quasi-judicial matter, I have been advised that I cannot interfere. As such, I have pivoted and started engaging staff to learn more about current Whatcom County code and how we ensure a public process. I am learning that there are many federal/state requirements that restrict us, but I am looking for ways we can improve our local processes. I am also trying to monitor the happenings at the Planning Commission as they consider additional code updates. Thanks, Kaylee”  
So Kaylee does what our elected officials always do. She tries to push responsibility to another entity. However, the planning commission has already rejected reasonable amendments like this. For example, one amendment would have allowed effected citizens within 3,000 feet of a tower 60 days to show that 70% of citizens did not want the tower. 70% is usch a high number that it would be tough to get anyway. The planning commission rejected this totally reasonable amendment.
They also are blowing off the huge environomental impacts this technology has.  Here is a link to myth busters that talks about how much wireless sucks compared to fiber. So in the end, we still need fiber, but the political establishment is trying to do a cash grab first. 
https://nwcitizen.com/entry/paying-more-to-get-less
Being totally aware of this knowledge the corporate dems., especailly Sharon Shewmake and Andrew Reding, are still trying to kill Dig Once, etc. 

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Satpal Sidhu

Jul 31, 2022

Hello Mr. Humpheries and the Readers of NW Citizen:

Jon is again confusing people with simplistic and accusatory statements. This is a fact that County Council is the ultimate arbitrator of such decissions like: Coal Port, Cell Tower and many more examples. If any of the Council member directly involves with the public debate or back one side or the other, then that member has to recuse during the Council Vote.  Jon, please stop mis-informing people.  If you are not sure, ask!  County Attorneys are workin for the best interest of the County Government and advise Council Memebrs keep their integrity on the matters they ultimately make final judgement.  Their advice is NOT, not to talk to public, but remind them the consequneces of such action. If any individual CM still want to participate in the public debate, they are free to do so. 

We do not let our judges converse with parties in dispute, or publically speak on matters which are in front of their court.  CM Galloway has been very honest, upfront and informative in her email.  We have laws and we all must follow them.  I have been Council Member for 5 years and worked through the Coal Port issues.  

I have talked to some of the Geneva Public mebers on this topic. I am an elected official, but do not have vote on the Council.

Jon, your pot shots on dig once policy and naming others is again an unprofessional conduct, however you don’t care for profesionalism anyways. 

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Satpal Sidhu

Jul 31, 2022

Editorial Board of NW Citizen  adn Regular readers of NW Citizen:  An appeal:

I am not asking for any censorship, but please have some policy so people who constantly degrade others, and speak in half truths, or push their view point at any cost, must have some checks to hold them responsible.

Satpal Sidhu

as a citizen and reader of his blog.

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Jon Humphrey

Jul 31, 2022

Satpal, the e-mail I provided from Kaylee itself states “Since this is a quasi-judicial matter, I have been advised that I cannot interfere.” So yes, it’s plain as day, the members were told NOT to talk to us. There is no good reason for this and no real reason was provided. If the lawyers don’t want to talk to us, that’s diffrent, but our elected officails should NEVER be restricted from doing so. 
Kaylee further states, “I am also trying to monitor the happenings at the Planning Commission as they consider additional code updates.” Meaning she is looking to the commission for guidance, determinations, etc. Again, there is no confusion. 
The planning commission just held a meeting on the issue and took NO REAL ACTION. This is not in dispute either. After almost 8 years we still don’t have a Dig Once policy and Andrew Reding has been caught red handed threatening TAGNW Connectivity members because he didn’t like it that I held members of the Shewmake Cartel accountable. He now wants me written out of the documents on broadband strategy I wrote and my Dig Once policy thrown away. 
https://www.change.org/p/mayorsoffice-cob-org-bellingham-whatcom-county-public-fiber-optic-network/u/30772890
This all started after I linked Shewmake and others to a local big telecom donor in another article.
https://nwcitizen.com/entry/sharon-shewmake-corporate-democrat-riveter-tied-to-big-telecom
Your own commentary can be seen throughout my articles, especially the one on Starlink, where you refuse to accept the truth on how communications work. 
You have simply been caught red handed, along with your corrupt Shewmake Cartel buddies, and are doing your party expected duty of defending a corrupt set of politicians working against the public interest. 
You have yet to provide any real numbers to back up even the mathematical side of your claims. I do that all of the time with RRUL testing, etc. Another initative your blocked even though it was only $11,000 to do a county-wide study. 
So now you want to shut me up, even though I have the truth, just like Andrew Reding tried to do. LOL, well that’s not the way we work here. I never say anything I can’t back up. Good luck with all of the fascism. People are catching on. NWCItizen, what Satpal really meant here is, “I demand NWCItizen participate in our censorship of people we don’t like just like the Herald does. That’s what we’re used to. Screwing people over and getting away with it! Just like the mob!” 
 

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Dianne Foster

Jul 31, 2022

 

I was on the call to the Planning Commission meeting last Thursday, and can testify that much brigher minds than mine were there to oppose the cell tower,  including a neurologist and a Ph.D. who has taught in Edinborough on Tropical Medicine.    I spoke about my own experience as a retired ARNP and leukemia patient now in remission following bone marrow transplant.   There are thousands of peer-reviewed studies demonstrating the harmful effects of non-ionizing radiation,  and connection to childhood leukemias.  One such article is printed in “Scientific American.”    Many of these are Australian,  where 5G is banned for health reasons.   We need Dig Once and fiber to the home.  And we need our public officials to listen to us and the evidence.  My FB page cover photo now says “Safe Broadband for All”;  from a light projection that my Occupy Bellingham group did 2 years ago at City Hall.    “Safe” means underground, not in the air,  irradiating people, pollinators, and the planet.   Planning Commission was very sympathetic, but feel their hands are tied by the Feds.   Yet Gig Harbor and Portland have essentially banned it by making such tight restrictions that there is no way around them.

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Jon Humphrey

Jul 31, 2022

Thanks Dianne, feigning sympathy is a common tactic of our elected officials. Remember when Todd Citron of LWWSD showed up to our cell tower protest to pretend like LWWSD cared. I said to everyone back then, “whether you like this guy or not is irrelevant, if he doesn’t make a commitment in writing then he’s just stalling for time.” Hell, he wouldn’t even make a commitment to tear up their illegal contract in person. Well, turns out I was right. DISH was frantically working on a new contract while Todd tried to keep us from getting a lawyer. Then LWWSD shortened our speaking time to 90 seconds at meetings.
So, ultimately, that’s what the planning commission did too. How much they did, or didn’t care, isn’t going to matter much without real commitments when the towers start sucking down 61 times as much power as fiber and make the climate crisis worse, lower home values, they mow down old growth trees to build them, etc. etc.
Satpal has sent me several e-mails and has supported Starlink and the special interests connected to it for a long time now, knowing the performance would not be good and the service too expensive compared to fiber. Even after Elon Musk himself said he needs more fiber on the ground. Going back to before my article on it. https://nwcitizen.com/entry/starlink-is-no-star
I have documents showing Satpal’s office giving almost $1 million during the pandemic to big telecom for virtually worthless wireless solutions, even after our RRUL testing showed that they performed at about 1/30th the federal high-speed standard. He gave our students a big fat placebo, with the help of the schools of course, to shut them up. Only poor kids would be getting those virtually worthless devices after all and the Democrats know how to deal with poor people that complain. 
He and Christine Grant “gave” the Nooksack people unaffordable Starlink solutions too which perform poorly compared to fiber while the Tulalip people enjoy a community built fiber to the home network.
Even after all of that Satpal sent me e-mails telling me he “remains open to new connection options” so even after MythBusters, etc. showed that solutions other than fiber were awful in comparison, Satpal continued to push them. 
Now what is the Port doing? Installing fixed wireless and leaving the final connection cost up to businesses and homeowners. So while Anacortes enjoys an average of $100 connection fees and $70 a month for Gigabit fiber to the home, Whatcom County residents will “enjoy” wireless solutions with connections fees in the thousands or tens of thousands that are not nearly as good instead. I sent the powers that be this MythBusters article and they ignored it. Because apparently they think they all know more than the rest of the developed world, the fiber optic association, leading scientists, community broadband networks, and more. See this article. https://nwcitizen.com/entry/paying-more-to-get-less
What is the PUD doing? Well after demanding that all models for community broadband other than LUDs be removed from the strategy document I was the primary author of, even though Community Broadband Networks prefers CO-OPs, etc. Christine Grant and the Shewmake Cartel are dodging meetings with the same LUDs (local utility districts) they claimed to care so much about.
Saying now that they can only help them “write contracts.” The only thing they’re working on, maybe, is to help 42nd chair Jamie Douglass and his son get their private telecom off of the ground
(aka directly profit from corporate welfare). Using the documents I wrote, btw but simply stealing the work. Oh and rewriting it to appease special interests. If they are successful only about 20 homes will get hooked up. So 20 homes in 8 years and no Dig Once policy. Why? Because Satpal doesn’t like Dig Once. He has no good arguments against it, he just listens to “know it all, knows enough to be dangerous” economists like Rob Fix.  
The Port’s connections also come with no guarantee of service or pricing and are not real fiber connections. It’s all a bunch of half-assed, smoke and mirror campaigns, while the Planning Commission, Councils, Satpal, etc. stall to appease the establishment and leave us all behind.  
A real commitment to the county-wide infrastructure we need, a Dig Once Policy, and more remain blocked by the Shewmake Cartel. Sure, the Republicans aren’t going to stand up to big telecom either, but in the end the Corporate Democrats have been in power for a long time and have given us very little to show for it.
The City Council continues to sit on a perfectly usable, existing, publicly owned fiber-optic network to appease Comcast. They even created fake documentation and a fake Broadband Advisory Group full of big telecom reps. And sympathizers. (See my articles on these topics.)
In the end there is no real progress and no commitments. Even anchor locations like libraries are not being hooked up.  
It’s the illusion of progress. They:
1. Pretend to care to seem progressive and get votes.
2. Take no real action or refuse to enforce existing laws to appease wealthy donors.
It’s all corrupt good old boys and girls. 
So yeah, the planning commission pretended to care, then let us know that they won’t really help us. Just like Kaylee did on behalf of the County Council. We don’t need a pat on the back. We need commitments and action. 

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Dianne Foster

Aug 01, 2022

Good thing we have a good lawyer…...

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