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.