A note to readers of NwCitizen

By On

Just a short bit about NwCitizen this morning. A few thoughts. Nothing heavy. But some things I’d like the regular readers to know.

The idea of this ‘blog’, or whatever it is called, is to provide local perspectives to local issues. There are currently 12 writers and each has considerable expertise and years of experience in one or more issue areas in our community. Some areas are Lake Whatcom, local politics, local economics, county planning, environmental issues and city planning. Each writer posts when they want and on any topic they want. There is no editing nor approval process. Once a writer, the path is open for posting.

My motivation for providing this forum is community concern. Concern that we need to be able to hear each other. That was much of my motivation for helping found the Whatcom Independent - which lasted 5 years but in the end could not sustain itself financially. With NwCitizen, there is no financial burden - or it is so low that it is less than most guys spend on golf. I started NwCitizen back in 1995 when I wanted to be heard and the Herald decided that it did not want the community to hear from me. And thus this became one of the very earliest political blogs anywhere.

With the use of advanced programming - for which I pay a much younger mind than mine to do - this website can now allow others whom our community should hear from to speak and be read. And it allows anyone who wants to openly comment with their own identity to also speak.

That, gentle reader, is what this site is about. Nothing more. This site can become as informative and useful as all of you make it - or as divisive and full of empty rants as we allow it to become. There is no hidden agenda. Many have clamored for a site like this - and sadly most of those same people now prefer to remain silent or only post where they can do it as anons on other sites. That is their choice.

If someone else creates a useful blog or website that comments on local political issues then I add a link in the right column to their site. Some of the most clicked there now are John Watts, Elizabeth Britt and Sam Taylor. My hope is that either NwCitizen will flourish or else that someone will create a site that effectively replaces this site and I can go sailing more. But till then, this site will do its best to provide a community forum.

A note. Since Ham Hayes declared as a candidate for Port Commissioner, he has decided to not post any articles until after the election.

About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Larry Horowitz

May 18, 2009

John,

As an occasional writer and commenter on NWCitizen, I?d like to thank you for providing this venue for the community to have a virtual meeting of ideas.  As you may recall, last August I wrote an article asking Is anybody out there? confessing my disappointment with the lack of conversation these articles have generated.  In response to my article, many NWC readers commented for the first time (or sent personal emails) to let me know that they find value in reading the various NWC columns, but don?t often have much to add.

In a follow-up article last Aug 16 entitled Jimmy Buffett, philosopher, I summarized the various reasons people gave for not adding their voices to the mix, and I asked ?Do we care about, are we informed about, and can we influence the future of our community?  What is the most effective way?  If not by communicating with each other (either online or face-to-face), then how??

I believe NWC provides a useful forum for us to communicate with each other and to influence our community for the better.  Perhaps the level of communication has not risen to critical mass because we?re not inspiring enough people with our articles.  Perhaps we haven?t yet addressed the key issues most people are concerned about.

I suspect that many readers would like a place to post their views on growth in Bellingham and Whatcom County. 

If you are reading this, please let us know what conversation you are most interested in having.

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John Servais

May 18, 2009

Larry,

Thanks. Your comment adds real value to this issue.  Yes, if anyone wants to write me or Larry privately about nwcitizen, please do.  Write me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and I’ll leave it to Larry to post an email address if he wants.  Anything sent to me for another writer will be forwarded. 

This forum is only one of many social tools we need in order to control the direction of our local political processes.  In our 21st century times, the electronic meeting place is being experimented with and formed.  Nothing replaces face to face meetings where we can see and hear each other.  But online forums can serve as one part of our public process.

I’ve been told that people don’t comment because of various reasons.  What is interesting is we have over 100 registered commenters but over 30 have never posted a comment.  I think the desire is there.  The reasons for hesitation are probably complicated.  I still get the jitters when I hit the ‘enter’ key and the post or comment becomes real.  Self doubt about the relevance or acceptance of our personal opinion on an issue or post is normal.  It is only through practice of our right to free speech that we can feel more comfortable.

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Vince Biciunas

May 20, 2009

About Ham Hayes’ decision not to comment until after elections:

Ham, I hope you reconsider!

I understand that when you are a candidate for a political office, you need to be careful about representing only yourself and not any other group to which you may belong, especially groups that are required to stay neutral, such as city neighborhood organizations.

In the case of writing commentary on issues on a public blog such as this one, with your identity known and published, I don’t see the conflict, especially if you mention your candidacy in the comments. I remember two years ago when Doug Karlberg was running for mayor, for instance, he wrote about issues and his candidacy on this blog, and the Herald’s, (with full name!) and I appreciated hearing what his thoughts were. It was just another way to get to know the candidates, and in Doug’s case, almost the only way!

John, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think your rules for this blog prevent politics. Only fairness and civility are required, and truth, as much as possible!

A candidate may choose to not participate in blogs in order to stay away from controversy, but that’s a different issue.

Meanwhile, for the sake of full disclosure, I am affiliated with Michael Lilliquist’s campaign for Ward 6, though these comments have not been ‘vetted’ and are only my thoughts. I am also no longer on the board of Fairhaven Neighbors since I have stepped down last month for family medical reasons. I am still a member of the neighborhood, and serve as alternate MNAC rep for a while longer, and I am still actively involved in Citizens’ Forum, a group that does encourage lively discussion.

I cherish the right to state my opinion and sign my name to it.  Ham, I don’t think you should give that up either. And thanks for running for public office.

Vince Biciunas

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