Cascadia Weekly Blasts Waterfront Plan

Tim Johnson, publisher and editor of the Cascadia Weekly, correctly blasts our wimpy Bellingham City Council for politely lying down in the mud to allow the Port of Bellingham to roll over them with their absurd waterfront plan.

He writes, “In the end, City Council failed in its most crucial role to represent the citizens of Bellingham and protect their interests.”

The three port commissioners, dominated totally by outgoing Scott Walker and Executive Director Rob Fix, have rammed the plan forward with little care for public concerns and no concern for putting the city taxpayers in deep debt for decades to come. All to benefit private developers and not the public.

See the Gristle online or pick up a copy of today's Cascadia Weekly, free, most anywhere in town. It is right on target. Bellingham, we have a problem.

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

Tip Johnson

Dec 04, 2013

This enormous public rip-off demands better public accountability of the Port.  It is time to put five commissioners back on the ballot.


Wendy Harris

Dec 04, 2013

It was amazing to see citizens turn out strongly opposed to the waterfront plans, and then be worse than ignored…. they were denied their voice. For example, at the first public hearing before the city council, the public turned out in force and uniformly objected to the proposal.  The next day, the mayor and the port environmental director advised the port commission that there was public support for this plan and that public input had been incorporated into the proposal.  I have never seen such blatant disrespect for public opinion. This plan has been shoved down our unwilling throats. Are we going to swallow?


George Dyson

Dec 04, 2013

As Port Commissioner Scott Walker explained to the Waterfront Advisory Group, 19 September 2007:

“We did not want to do it in a linear process…. we are going ahead in parallel [to the regulatory process] and then we are going to push that through the regulatory process.”

This was the final push. Stay tuned.


Alex McLean

Dec 05, 2013

The door out of Council chambers hit my ass the second I was done with my allotted 3 minutes—no need to stick around to watch these shilpits splutter regrets or congratulations as it was clear, by the deadness in their eyes, that they had made up their minds long, long ago.

Wendy is right. Once that it became clear the public was going to be ignored, or that staff would bury them in obfuscating minutia, a vast majority of the stalwarts appear to have given up to go cry in their beers. This was a done deal, as rigged as scheduling the most important meeting of the year directly atop the Seahawks once-per-season Monday night showcase.

It has been an astonishing, and spirit-crushing, thing to watch and (attempt) to participate in.

As there seems to be virtually no political allies for the public’s quashed waterfront vision, aside from Reverend Weiss bravely reading us its obituaries, I wonder if appealing to a higher power is now in order. By that I mean soliciting the State—who supposedly will be doling out massive grants for this development project—and perhaps the Lummis, Army Corps, Dept. of Ecology, or whatever authorizing agency or elected official is next slated to nudge this venally corrupted plan forward.

We need to have a clear warning, a resilient and unmolested public statement, tracking alongside every next step of this plan telling potential signatories or funding sources that, in fact, there is massive opposition to how this turd has been flushed through Bellingham’s local process.

I’m good at proposing things I have precisely zero skills at organizing, but this is what I might envision for a starting point.

1) solicit all of the known opponents to this plan
2) create a simple template of how to list our grievances: the legal flaws or outright fraud of this plan, the public process concerns, or mere personal disappointments of fear and regret now embodied by its hasty enactment and eventual, resulting, development.
3) have a grand letter-writing party
4) once folks have literally “signed on,” once a decent representation of our population and organizations are re-engaged, try to get the public’s teeth gnawing upon this same bone of contention. Stir the hornets nest. If we have to, perhaps pin down a little “fact sheet” of this plan’s potential social and environmental impacts, the queered taxes, the stuff the Herald didn’t report and that Tim Johnson shouldn’t have to. Hit the markets and art-walks with some outreach and direct action.
5) collated and written only once, these letters and this effort need only ensure that it is delivered to and put into the public record of every deliberating body or public official that will be asked to bless this bad plan. When the City Council and the Port of Bellingham claim that the public endorses their plan, which they already are claiming, then we need to have our rebuttal to slap that heresy into submission.

The letters are important.

I envision this stack of personal statements—definitively NOT mere throw-away postcards—clogging each hoop that this process must next jump through, gumming its gears, and forcing hesitation. The goal need not be thwarting all development, but simply rejecting this horribly flawed, desperately unfair, framework. Part of our local politician’s obfuscating power was to declare, or simply to tut-tut to us, that this process is too complex. They made sure it was, yes, but it need not be that way anymore.

We are always free to petition our government for redress of grievances. It is boilerplate simple. It is not like we, for the most part, have not already provided our written comment on this plan in desperate abundance. This iteration would simply be a final statement—much like Councilmember Weiss’s—that we could staple together and force onto the table of more powerful, perhaps more interested, elected officials.

If you were a senator, or governor, about to sign off on $XXX millions in grants pinned to this project, I would think that it would raise rather glaring red flags if the solicitation for free cash came with hundreds of complaints from the supposedly eager city of origin.

I don’t know.

I’m a bit dumb, or at least dumb-struck, right now.

If we could muster any energy to reorganize, now that we really know what the rules are and what is at stake, then we might be able to effect the final, on-the-ground, reality of this plan. I’m looking for hope, essentially, and clawing out of a really angry version of depression.

As usual, apologies for length.


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