Update June 3: A reader has provided the 4 minute audio of Dave's comments.
Dave Warren, the defacto leader of local unions regardless of his retired status, insulted the audience last night at the public meeting to hear opinions on the coal port. Jeers did not drown out his remarks during his allotted three minutes - contrary to John Stark's reporting in the Herad. The audience, who had been directly insulted, groaned and then moaned. A normal human reaction. Listen to the tape for yourself at minutes 123 to 127 of the audio posted on the city website. Leading up to his insult, Dave used words like "despicable" and "fracturing." He was not interrupted. He paused for effect. He asked for it. He got it.
Dave gave a lengthly whine about how unfair the audience and Re Sources was. Then he ended with this zinger at the audience: "Let me express my disappointment how quickly members of this community can so easily turn their backs on the unemployed, working families, and union members." Of course, the audience was mostly made up of working folks, with no doubt some unemployed, and even union members - who also expressed concerns about the project. Yes, they groaned. There were no jeers per Stark's skewed reporting.
This happened at the Municipal Court during a meeting called by Mayor Dan Pike to allow citizens to express opinions about the coal port. The room was packed and many people had to stand outside. Gateway Pacific has plans to build one of the largest coal loading ports in the world here in Whatcom County in order to export coal to China. Local residents in Bellingham and the rural county have serious environmental concerns. They expressed them last night.
In his comments, Warren accused Re Sources, and executive director Bob Ferris, of "despicable" behavior and of "fracturing" the relationship between local unions and local environmentalists. Sorry Dave, but I was at your February 17 meeting at the Norway Hall when your packed audience of union members booed, jeered, and interrupted Bob Ferris continually. They behaved like thugs. Anyone not supporting the coal port was treated with aggression and contempt. I learned that when I spoke out, and later told Warren he should control his members. He just smiled. Then later he came over to me and said we should meet. Sorry Dave, meeting with you is a waste of time. For years you have encouraged boorish behavior by your members.
Dave said last night he and the unions wanted a "respectful discussion" of the issues around the coal port. Well, that was not the case at the February meeting. There, Dave exhorted his union members to get behind this project. Period. No talk of discussion. Just rah-rah and damn any opposition. The meeting was an emotional rally for the coal port, and anyone opposed to the project had good reason to be fearful of a physical confrontation.
At that February meeting, Dave Warren was also insulting and showed contempt for anyone not supporting the coal port. He fractured any relationship that existed with enviros. He yelled that the unions "put boots on the ground for the Democrats" and expected their support, to the cheers and yelling of his union members. No discussion of issues. No expressions of "reasoned discussion" like he was pleading for last night for the benefit of the press.
Also at the February meeting, our mayor, Dan Pike, jumped up to announce that he "supports" the coal port project. He went on about what a good project this was. Dan said not a word about coal trains through Bellingham. Dan probably didn't really even know what he was supporting. He had a room full of union members and he wanted their votes. It was only days or weeks later that he got on to the issue of coal trains through Bellingham. Dan is now quiet about his early full support for the coal port.
Last night, Dave Warren was treated more politely than he and his union mob treated Bob Ferris at the February meeting. More politely than they treated anyone who questioned the coal port at the February meeting. Of course, there was no Herald reporter at the February meeting - and so Dave was not playing to the press.
Listen to the audio from last night for yourself. Unfortunately, the city is still using old technology and we cannot download the audio and then listen to portions on our computers. You have to listen for two hours to get to Dave Warren's rant. He wanted to insult the audience and get them to react. They did react and John Stark of the Herald gave Dave cover. Sad and deceptive reporting.