Respect and Services for county residents

By On

Every part of Whatcom County deserves basic services. Every hamlet and home - and island - deserves our respect and support. Lummi Nation deserves our respect and we must pay for what we use of theirs. The ongoing negotiations to secure a car ferry to Lummi Island has brought to light some pretty nasty and reprehensible feelings in our community.

If we, as a county, do not want to provide ferry service to Lummi Island
then perhaps we should give it to some other county that will respect the residents there. We spend a lot to provide road service to many parts of Whatcom County - in the hills and up the Nooksack. The Building Industry Association expects and gets roads, schools and law enforcement service for their developments - which translates directly into profit in their pockets. Impact fees are a joke. Our friends on the right seem to feel this is OK.

A few years ago, our Whatcom County Library Administration simply cut off the Newhalem library. Simply decided it could no longer support the residents of this small town in our county's hinterland. Well, perhaps we should give the eastern half of our county to Skagit County. They support Newhalem. The Newhalem library - which is also the social center of the town - got help from Seattle City Light while our county executive, Pete Kremen, pleaded to me he had no power of influence. Of course, he simply did not care, or lacked the courage to show any leadership.

Our county leaders have dissed and demeaned the concerns of the Lummi for over a century. In particular, Haxton Way - a county road - has been a death trap for residents of the area. See the article by Tip Johnson and the map. Pete Kremen, for all his smooth talk, is only concerned with personalities, not issues. He showed little concern or respect for Lummi safety and community concerns - until the Lummi Nation started playing hardball. They simply wanted to get our attention. Unfortunately, Pete and his advisors and our county attorneys only respect brute force and bad publicity. They are now negotiating.

Lummi Island residents deserve a ferry system. It is the same as a road to their community. The whole system need not be expensive - but our local governments today can't seem to build even a sidewalk without spending exhorbitant amounts of money. The islanders are a diverse group and many families have lived there for generations. If we build an expensive ferry system, then indeed, only the wealthy will be able to live there. We citizens of Whatcom County should pressure our Council to get real and show some leadership on this issue. The Council should work with Lummi Nation and the Islanders to get a viable and efficient ferry system in place. There certainly is no leadership from Pete Kremen.

In closing, the secrecy of the negotiations is deplorable.
This is not national security. This is basic services. County attorneys have never shown much respect or concern for open government. They always have excuses for secrecy. Again, it is only if citizens speak out that any change will take place. Certainly, one guy writing will be ignored. Speaking out is all I can do. The rest is up to you and others. And I continue to have hope in you and others.

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

Tom Pratum

Feb 10, 2010

The Lummi Islanders may deserve a ferry, but they also deserve to pay for it; and it will indeed be very expensive….. While it is great that a long term deal is being worked on, the only thing our county leaders really care about is kicking this on down the road for someone else to deal with. They have an outdated ferry, a dock that will need to be moved, additional lease expenses, and infrastructure improvements that will undoubtedly be part of the long-term lease. Personally, I already feel that I pay too much for the ferry - everyone in the county currently pays 45% of the cost (minimum) - and I am hoping any additional expenses are born entirely by the residents of Lummi Island, as they should be.