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Two dozen want Murphy’s Bellingham council seat

By On

Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Jean Layton told me this last year when I asked her why she chose to challenge Roxanne Murphy, who was seeking reelection to the at-large seat on the Bellingham City Council.

Layton was no match for the affable Murphy, who cruised to her third two-year term in the 2017 elections. But Layton’s sentiment endures. Three years after all four City Council positions up for election attracted only one candidate each—including a wide-open seat in Ward 1, anchored by the Birchwood neighborhood—24 people have submitted applications to the city to replace Murphy. She announced on Sept. 1 that she was leaving her City Council seat, and Bellingham, for a new job as assistant city manager for Valdez, Alaska.

The City Council will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 1 at City Hall to hear all candidates make three-minute pitches. A city statement says council members will convene privately then announce their appointment before the public, all in the same evening. The new council member will serve until next year’s elections. Of course the appointee may choose to step aside at that point, or seek another two years by getting on the ballot and campaigning. Murphy’s spot is the only at-large seat among seven on the council; all registered voters within the city limits are eligible for the position.

So whom will the council choose? Applicants include two former council members—Stan Snapp, who retired in 2013, and Tip Johnson, who served 1986-93. (Johnson also is a longtime writer for NWCitizen.) MIchael McAuley, who retired from the Port of Bellingham commission last year, also presented himself as a candidate.

Others in the mix include city planning commissioner Lisa Anderson, the founding director of the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center, small-business owners, a “working poet,” and the publisher of The Betty Pages, perhaps best known by the stage name “Betty Desire.”

The question remains: Whom will the council choose? Does someone seek this appointment as a stepping-stone to a run for mayor next year? Does the council want someone who will run to retain the seat next year, or someone who says they will step out of the way when voters decide on the seat? Murphy was one of three women on the council, and a member of the Nooksack Indian Tribe. Will the council seek to maintain the group’s current level of diversity?

You can determine for yourself who might be most qualified by reviewing all 24 applications, posted here on the city’s website.

About Ralph Schwartz

Columnist • Member since May 23, 2014

After 13 years in mainstream journalism, Ralph Schwartz left The Bellingham Herald in November 2015 to get more involved in the community. He's now a freelance editor and writer, and works in [...]

Comments by Readers

Jon Humphrey

Sep 26, 2018

Thanks for this article Ralph. I will contact all of them and see if I can get a response for their position on broadband. I know that one of them supports it, but I’d like to make a full list.

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Stan Snapp

Sep 26, 2018

Thanks for posting this article Ralph. It is interesting that so many people are willing to seek an appointment and yet so few candidates seek election to public office by committing to the hard work of gaining voters support.

In 2007 myself and Damon Gray ran for the Fourth Ward council seat held by an appointed incumbent and the fact that there were three of us created the need for us to survive the Primary before we could move on to run city-wide in the General election.  Damon and I worked hard especially door belling our Ward asking for voter support. Surviving a Primary and then a General election process is not easy and yet you feel like there is a level of confidence that the voters have expressed with their vote. I think, and the Charter agrees with me, that appointments are not the best way to fill a vacant position and when the election is certified the elected candidate immediately takes office. 

I have applied for this position to fill out this term until the voters can have their say. If appointed I will not run for the position so that the advantage of an imcubent by appointment will not happen. I have served with three of the current council members for many years and have chaired most council committees including being an council officer each of my six years. If appointed I expect it will be an easy transition with a simple update on current council issues. Other candidates have a fairly steep learning curve as the city government is a very complex system. Ask any sitting council member how long it took them to feel that they were being effective in their positions. 

In that long list of applicants I hope there are others that seek to fill the position only on a temporary basis as the Charter intends. 

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Jon Humphrey

Sep 26, 2018

Tip Johnson, Elizabeth Darrow, Michael McAuley and Stan Snapp have all gotten back to me about public broadband.

Elizabeth Darrow believes that internet should be free for all and is “100% supportive of a public fiber network.”

Tip Johnson is also just as supportive and also wants to form a citizen’s committee to advise the council on telecom. He states that it is long overdue.

Michael McAuley is supportive and also wants to form a tech advisory committee.

Stan Snapp says, “Jon, I fought for public access tv all of my six years on council. I served on the negotiation for a new agreement with Comcast. We, Jack Weiss and I drug cast through it kicking and screaming. Huge uphill battle. Dig once is new but I would have fought for it. Public Works shows little support for these types of efforts.”

I am waiting on the rest…

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Michael Lilliquist

Sep 27, 2018

I offer a small correction to Ralph’s article.  He writes, “A city statement says council members will convene privately then announce their appointment before the public, all in the same evening.”  Almost.

The city counciul will convene privately only to discuss the qualifications of candidates, per state law on executive session, but no nominations or voting is taken while in executive session. Any actions will be after the city council reconvenes in open session. We won’t decide in private, and then announce in public. The actual deciding will be in public, as required by law. In my experience, it’s a funncy dance we do during this kind of private session: expressing our observations and impressions, without coming out and stating our opinions and preferences, trying to stay on the right side of a line that is not always easy to see.

Also, it is not a foregone conclusion that a new member will be appointed that same evening.  That’s a likely outcome, but it has not alway gone that way. I am told that in years past, the council was deadlocked on who to appoint, and so it took more than one meeting to reach a  consensus on a compromise candidate.  I was thinking that a delayed outcome is unlikely, but with so many credible candidates, I can imagine each of us having several candidates that we like, and no clear favorite.

As for “what the council wants,” your guess is as good as mine!

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Jon Humphrey

Sep 27, 2018

Michael, let’s not pretend like the fact that this will be voted on in an “open session” will have any bearing on the councils’ decisions. It is inappropriate that this is an appointment in the first place, but I’m sure it’s what your corporate owners want. Just look at how you’ve shoe-horned everything through for big telecom without creating even an advisory board like has been done in the past many times on many issues. Part of the reason that there are so many applicants is that, with few exceptions, the current council, mayor, and upper eschelon of staff can not be trusted to make a decision that benefits the greater community. The 3 minutes you give speakers at sessions are a joke that exist only so you can pretend like the public has a say. With the dumpster fire of the Waterfront project, that should be abandoned in the face of better solutions and more important problems, I am sure that you will all pick some stooge that will fall in line and support big corporate interests instead of anyone with integrity and concern for the community. Corporate welfare is the norm. Just ask AT&T how thye like the public fiber and the million bucks you gave them in 2016 while lying to the public about the usefulness of the existing network. THis kind of stuff happens all of the time. It’s like how you shoe-horned everything Verizon wanted through during the summer and ignored the community, even though better, safer solutions like Distributed Antenna Systems exist. You only take the information you want. The rest is a sham that is only democratic on the surfcae. So in essence, what Ralph writes is accurate. This should be voted on. By the time you get to an open council session you’ve already heard from your owners in the background. Nothing the citizens say will have any bearing. Unless they’re from the top 5% and invested in the Waterfront.

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Gene Knutson

Sep 27, 2018

Micheal, Just to chime in here we have always picked somebody the same night. This will be the 5th time we have had too choose a new council member in the last 25 years. The first time in 1994 it was a tough choice and it took hours for us to pick somebody. But since then we have done a good job picking a new member. It has been smooth and fair for everybody. Out of all those processes we have chosen Pat Rowe,John Watts,Don Gischer and Dan Hammil. I will stand by thoses choices any day and will this one also. We do not take this lightly it is a tough decsion. The citizens will get the final say on who we pick in next years election. I might add Don Gischer did not get elected after we picked him. So for anybody to state the citizens get no say is not accurate at all they always have the final call on all of us. Micheal is right we will not vote in private at all period. This is spelled out in our charter very plain and simple and i am sure it will turn out a new good member of the city council like it always has.

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Michael Lilliquist

Sep 27, 2018

Jon,

I really am at a bit of a loss on how, or whether, I should repond to your comments about council members being owned by corporations, or acting based on instruction from our corporate owners.   I respect and appreciate the work you are doing, Jon, but these are serious accusations. I have to wonder whether you have any evidence to make a blanket statement that covers the whole city council. Others can speak for themsleves, of course.  In my case, the idea of corporate ownership is without basis. 

My hope is that I might be able to show you what actually happens, so that you will see that it may not be as bad as you think. Outright influence by corporations is just not an issue in my personal experience. Things inside city hall are not bad in that way, but maybe in other ways. Personally, I see problems with imbalances in information and time and resources available to decision makers, and those are a genuine concern to me.  It’s lack of information or the full picture, not outside influence, that is a problematic.

I have not talked with or received a single email or any personal communcations from anyone in the telecomm industry in years, not a single instance across months and months, on any issue before the city council. Other than my conversations with you and other supporters of public broadband, the only telecomm-related conversations I have had in the last several months have been with network consultants from the Foresite Group about how to set up a public broadband system, and with one of the persons who helped Ammon, Idaho set up their publicly-owned fiber network. You know I am the steadiest and sometime only voice in support of looking seriously at public broadband for Bellingham.

(I do occassionally receive unsolicited newsletters from the corporate sector such as the PVC pipe industry, from cloud computing companies, from street light vendors, from law enforcement policy consultants, etc.  These are advertisements and I don’t read them. Telecomm companies don’t even send these as far as I know.  Instead, I receive newletters from CLIC, Route Fifty, Sustainable Cities Network, etc., which I do glance at.)

My personal policy is to meet with almost anyone who asks, but big corporate reps have never asked or even reached out to me in any way.  The only big corporation reps I can recall talking with in the last year were from PSE and Cascade Natural Gas, which did not like the Climate Action Task Force resolution—which we passed anyway, and over the resistance of the administration I might add. I have spent more time talking with reps from WWU students than with any other “lobbying” group. 

I do recall Uber was lobbying the city council pretty hard a couple years back. That was very unusual. I voted against the Uber rules, by the way, not becasue I am against such network companies, but becasue the ordinance gave away the city’s right to run background checks on Uber drivers. That was a big mistake. I have said so publicly on a number of occasions. More recently,  I wondered if Airbnb might try to lobby us with regard to the short-term rental regulations, but I never heard a work from them. Not once. As you may know, the majority of the council is supporting puting limits on Airbnb-type rentals—if you want to rent out a house or apartment in a residential area, you must be the offical resident yourself. It cannot be an investment property. I support these limits, which I wold assume the industry resents.

I think that gives you a more accurate picture of how it works in Bellingham, at least from my own experience. Lobbying by corporations is almost nonexistent, as far as I can tell.

More specifically, I have not had a single conversastion with any one from a big corporation, or a small one for that matter, about who we might appoint to fill the vacancy on the city council. I have had a few brief chats with regular citizens about it (many of them retired persons), mostly about generalities of the process. I have coffee-chat meetings set up with at least two of the candidates who reached out to me, and I have had talks with three other candidates who were considering putting in applications.  All of them did, and none of them is anything like a corporate shill - quite the opposite.  I also briefly touched base with two other city council members, but none of us expressed particular support for any one candidate. We mostly just speculated on who we heard might be applying. No city council member has asked me to support any of the candidates. I have not asked any city council member to support any candidate. If those conversations are happening, it’s without my knowledge.

So that’s it. That’s the sum total of my converstions to date on filling the vacancy.  Not a single whiff of “corporate owner.”

And I would go further: If you think any of the candidates are particularly unsuitable or particularly suitable for the position, please email the city council soon, to ccmail at cob dot org.

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Jon Humphrey

Sep 27, 2018
Michael sent his last response to my personal e-mail as well so it would be “on record” as if that would intimdate me. Gene, I did not say you would vote before hand just that your mind will be made up before hand.  Anyway, here is my response. Keep in mind that I have been gathering information for over 2 years. Everything I’ve had to say has been on the record. Not putting things on the record, and not having a transperant government, is how you end up in the situation we’re currently in.
“LOL, Michael I have provided you and the community with evidence many times and written about it publicly. I am an expert that has been collecting information, etc. for over two years. I can’t help it if you’re not reading it. First of all, I said “with few exceptions” which suggests exceptions and I did not name names in my comments, secondly the AT&T document clearly shows a 20 year guarantee of rental to AT&T, $930K in upgrades, and a public fiber run made in 2016 when I was meeting with Ted and Marty and they were telling JD and I that the network wasn’t usable. This was the same meeting Ted threatened to end on behalf of PSE when we were talking about their poor, over-priced, infrastructure. You also plan to lease this infrastructure to Verizon and others. This was talked about in council. You sitll have not had a proper, official meeting about or formed a proper advisory board. Yet you shore-horned everything through that CenturyLink and Verizon wanted. Council members even openly praised CL.
You have only met with big telecoms in council sessions. Other meetings, like the one with Kim, were informal or very old. James knows that you are still withholding documents for the existing network using an outdated security model as a defense.
I have always maintained that you need to have a real meeting/committee on telecom. Yet you keep making decisions without doing so. CItizens showed up twice in support of Dig Once and Public Broadband, but you blew it off while pushing through potentially dangerous 5G legislation, approving other franchises, etc. All of you did. We can argue about whether you had to or not later.    
So yes, I do have lots of research, etc. backing up my claims, as you already know. I don’t mind any of this being part of the public record. It already is. Your statement that it will be doesn’t bother me at all. Our governments need to stop trying to intimidate us and violate our first amendment rights as this e-mail attempts to do and as council member Murphy did to several individuals.
We need more transperancy. It is the only way to cure what is going on with the city council. The mayor made a crack about how, “it doesn’t help when we make comparisons between fiber and the Waterfront,” to a supporter recently. (aka, You better stop being critical about the Waterfront.) So yes, the way you’ve conducted yourselves, documentation, in some cases the jobs and other holding that council members have, suggest conflicts of interest and some corporate involvement, the private/semi-private meetings that don’t allow for public commentary suggests the same. Council members and staff telling people in the community to use WAVE or CenturyLink suggests the same. Withholding records suggests the same. Refusing to let us confirm your claims about the existing network, by withholding public records, suggests the same. 
Again, “with few exceptions” was said. Also, it was in the comments so it’s well within my free speech rights. You should know that as a paralegal. I’ve copied everyone here that I’m sure you already BCC’d. I have nothing to hide and am always honest. I can’t speak to personal delusions that some may have as to their role in things. I have more, but this is enough for now. If you don’t want comments like this made, then I suggest the council, etc. clean up their act and work on behalf of the people. I have a right to free speech and critical analysis of my government, and I’ve been collecting documents, etc. for over 2 years now. Suggesting I behave otherwise is inappropriate. “
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Dianne Foster

Sep 27, 2018

Ralph,

Thanks for the heads’ up;   I’m sure that the neighborhoods will be lobbying for someone to represent their interest in preventing neoliberals from rezoning the downtown historic ‘hoods to multifamily   -   in the name of social justice,    to open up said places to unlimited development and gentrification.   We’ve seen this other places,  and it’s coming here.   Nevermind that Seattle rezoned and rezoned,  built and built,  and housing is still not affordable for middle and low-income people,  and blacks have been bulldozed out of the central area into Renton and Kent.  But somebody’s lining their pockets with the “justice-washing” building boom.   I would love to see Lisa Anderson from Planning Commission have the spot   -  one of the only level-headed voices for single-family zoning and preservation of old affordable housing.     At least she listens.

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Jon Humphrey

Sep 28, 2018

Here is the new, and probably final batch. Before that I wanted to recall a few other things I remembered and reinterate the importance of broadband. Whether a candidate is a good person or not, no matter what issue you’re working on broadband effects it. The assault on broadband is a violation of our first amendment rights and will lead to censorship. AT&T and Verizon are even slowing down First Responder Conenctions. No ethical council should tolerate this under any circumstances. So if someone doesn’t respond to an inquiry on this topic, then you shouldn’t want them as a council member. Without open communications we can’t hold anyone to account or effectively work on most issues in the modern age.  

Michael was very careful to say that he didn’t individually meet with a big telecom rep. That’s probably true. The big telecoms have a hotline to the COB and have regular meetings with their staff who the council takes their advice from. However, the council has been receiving lots of well researched information that conflicts with what the IT Director and Public Works Director have been telling them. So they do know better by now. I’ve written about this before. This was best shown when Ted Carlson (Public Works Director) had Matt Stamps (a non-Tech Savvy City Attorney) give the small cell presenatation in July. This was to send a message that this was happening whether we liked it or not. The city then referred everyone to Verizon to answer their questions on behalf of the city. As I said in my speech that night, “this shows a deep and inappropriate relationship between big telecom and our government.” They have even, on at least one occasion, referred WAVE broadband reps. to our sate officials to bring the state “up to date” on our fiber situation here. Think about that, when the state checked into the situation in Bellingham the COB referred them to a provider that charges 14 times more for their service than they do in Chatanooga, TN and 30 times more than in South Korea. They assured the state that everything is fine here. The list goes on. Here is the video of the Verizon incident. https://meetings.cob.org/Meetings/ViewMeeting?id=1692&doctype=1

It should be noted that Ted Carlson did not stay for public commentary on the topic for any of the meetings up to this point. The Public Works Commission also did not bring in impartial experts to talk about 5G, or broadband in genearl, and closed their period for acceping concerns from the community on 5G early. 

Jean Ryan (Who I’m met with before) has backed off of total support for public broadband since then and only supports a Dig Once Policy now.

Jennifer Mansfield supports public broadband.

Jamie Bennett is interested in learning more about the idea. It sounds like he has received the overstated numbers from Public Works that have been at the heart of this problem. Mount Vernon does conduit with fiber for about $180K a mile most of the time. Our public works department quotes anywhere from $400K to $1.5 Million. It’s easy to see how one can get confused if they think they can trust the data they’re getting from the COB and the private providers that charge 14 times what they do on other public networks like Chatanooga. This response seems like the COB public works/IT directors (aka big telecom supporters) disinformation campaign in full force. Hopefully, when we talk about what’s going on in the rest of the country and developed world, Jamie will get it.

Dana Briggs says, “The short answer is I believe the Internet is and should be regulated as a public utility with unlimited access for all. Whether the infrastructure is built and maintained by Bellingham, or the county and all municipalities is open to debate given the population in this area. I am not in favor of the private sector providing Internet services for the following reasons: a. As a former USAF telecommunications officer and into private life, I have been using the Internet since 1974. I have watched it evolve and grow. It is essentially a combination of the public library system (information) and phone system (communications). As it was funded by public resources, it should never have been privatized. b. Given that, there should be a funding mechanism for installation, upgrade and maintenance. I prefer a nominal fee as opposed to a tax to specifically earmark those funds for that purpose and nothing else. For low income individuals/families, at a minimum “no cost” public WiFi should be provided in strategic locales. For access in apartments, houses, etc., reduced or no cost access could be provided based upon income such as is done for heating with the federal LIHEAP program. c. Given the current Internet access monopoly in most locales, the private sector has proven they can not be trusted to create an access “competition”. Further, the danger of that sector acting as information gatekeepers ala the ongoing Net Neutrality fight is unacceptable. As for “dig once”, practically and fiscally sensible regardless of who is funding road construction.”

Aaron Silverberg says, “I’m in support of public broadband and the Dig Once policy. I agree that those terrible internet connections compound digital divide challenges. I’m all for protecting net neutrality and making sure that corporate greed does not 1984ize the Internet. Hope that helps!

 

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Michael Lilliquist

Sep 28, 2018

I certainly never intended my note saying that my post here was in the record would be seen by you any kind of intimidation. I was just letting you know why I was emailing you as well as posting here. You might have wondered why you got the same message twice. I did not mean to imply anything by it. I did it to comply with transparency rules, as I indicated, and which I wholeheartedly support. We’re both in favor of transparency.  I think we’re on the same side, here.

You say your message said, “with a few exceptions,” but then your reply was addressed to me by name and you said “you do this” and “you do that.”  It sounded like you meant me personally, not the city council and administration generally.  Hopefully you can see why I’d take your comments as if they were directed at me.  Even in your most recent reply, you write “you” in a way that lumps together different people who may have no knoweldge or control of each other. For example, just becasue one councl member speaks favorably of CenturyLink doesn’t mean we all hold the same view.

I did not Blind CC anyone in my message to you, as you believe. Why would I?  One look at the email metadata (which we can request, if you’d like) will show that to be true. 

Of course you have free speech rights. I know you speak the truth as you see it, and you have nothing to hide.  Same here.  I have had no interactions or communications with telecom companies, so I would have to guess what they want or don’t want. Also, you can watch the video of council meetings where I suggest using DAS technology, openly speak in favor of genuine look at public broadband, support a Dig Once policy and push back against staff’s initial proposal, and their new proposal to “study” first before establishing a Dig Once policy. It’s nuts. Again, I think we’re on the same side here.

With regard to public records, if city staff are withholding anything, that’s just plain wrong.  I don’t know if they are.  I’ve never seen any records, other than what you have seen provided in our council packets.  I think the truth is that Public Work’s records used to be low-tech (paper records) and incomplete, and are only now being modernized. I credit the pressure from people like you with getting Public Works to see the need for a full survey and mapping our our network resources.

Anyway, my original instention is still the same, which is, to let people know that there are no “corporate owners” of my vote now, and there never will be. That’s what all elected officials should promise you.

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John Lesow

Sep 28, 2018

On Executive Session protocols,  Michael is correct.  And Appearance of Fairness does make a difference.

In 2004, there was a vacancy on the Point Roberts Water Board due to the resignation of one of the elected Commissioners.  Several citizens applied to fill the vacancy.  I did not apply, but attended the public meeting to support one of the applicants and observe the process.

The Water Commissioners went into Executive Session to review the applications.  A short time later, the Commissioners emerged from the meeting and the Water Board Chair announced the name of the replacement. She then thanked the other applicants.

  It was clear that the decision had been made behind closed doors, which is a violation of Washington State Open Meetings laws.  The Chair was reminded that there should be a public vote . This was done AFTER the closed door decision had already been announced.

When the legality of the closed door decision was challenged by this writer, the Water Commissioners refused to admit or correct their mistake. The meeting had not been taped, so the Commissioners were not held to account.

I subsequently filed a legal action against the Water Board for a violation of the Open Meetings Act.  I was represented by Bellingham attorney David Hunter. The Water District relied on their ratepayer funded Seattle attorney to defend their mistake.

In the depositions that followed, it was clear that the Water Board would continue to stonewall.  The case was eventually dropped.  

The lesson here is that when the letter of the law is not followed, public confidence in the process is eroded.

Ralph Swartz is a good investigative reporter.  He may wish to review the depositions, newspaper accounts and legal documents to verify my comments. 

I would be glad to make myself available in Bellingham at David Hunter’s law office.  Since the Water Board Chair is still in office, she would be welcome to attend and present her version of events.

 

 

 

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Jon Humphrey

Sep 28, 2018

Wow John, that is amazing, but sadly not surprising. I also am sad to say that I doubt Diane will get what she wants in the way of housing fairness from a council where at least two of the members, Dan Hamill and April Barker, voted in their own interests to support the ADU/DADU ordinance. It is in their interest to support someone like minded. Hence, why the decision will be made beofre a “vote” is taken. It would have been appropriate for them to abstain. I’ve already hit the telecom stuff hard so I’ll drop it and write an article on some of the COB corporate welfare I’ve come across in my research over the last 2 plus years. I have sent this all to the council and mayor and an investigation is way overdue.

Michael, yes I did use the word you to mean the larger group, not you personally. Gene, I have to disagree with you on Dan. He was NOT a good pick if unless you are not amongst the top 10%. Most of us need affordable housing and chosing him does NOT support your case for picking good candidates.  42% of Bellinghammers live at or below the poverty line.

On the lager scope, pretending that upper-eschelon city staff do NOT have good jobs and are overworked, and just can’t do a good job with the resources they have, is inaccurate. Compared to most of their neighbors they are very wealthy. For example, the mayor, Ted Carlson and Marty Mullholland make between 6 to 8 times what most Bellinghammers do. If they don’t want to do a good job for making that much, then there are plenty of other community minded people out there, capable of doing a better job, that do. Yes, they are withholding records and have stonewwalled and done so, as much as possible, for 2 years now. Some records were released and the more records we get the more we find out that they are lying about the existing network and that they give corporate welfare out to companies like AT&T.

They don’t need to do a study to install conduit. According to a recent e-mail I received from Public Works, they are constantly expanding the network, including installing 2” by 2” conduit for their own use. This conduit can carry 867 strands of fiber each. Each strand can carry at least 16 wavelengths, each wavelength can be divided up 128 times. Each providing a seperate service. The optical split is one of the general pieces of infromation I’ve asked for that they’re unnecessiliary witholding. There is no security risk in providing the information we’ve requested unless the truth is that they network is insecure. Anyway, I’m starting to write my next article so I’ll save this all for that. The council is aware of all of this.

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Dianne Foster

Sep 28, 2018

Actually,   I should have mentioned Jean Ryan as well.    She would be great at representing neighborhood viewpoints on the growth machine.    Though the pro-development crowd knows they can infill in MFZ and urban villages,  they will not be happy until all single-family zoning is gone.  but of course the majority of council is pro-growth,   so neither Lisa or Jean stand a chance.

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Jon Humphrey

Sep 29, 2018

I am happy to say that Lisa Anderson got back to me today. Her response is well reasoned and thought out. Here it is.

“Greetings,

I have a unique understanding of underground utilities and road development. My husband, Cory Anderson, was a utility lead for WWU and currently works for Whatcom County roads division. In my 20s I worked in construction and the local shipyard. We talk infrastructure a lot!

When this issue came before City Council, I was surprised it wasn’t the standard for Bellingham. Placing conduit and capping it off for future connectivity was common practice at Western Washington University.

I realize that there is a cost increase for materials but sometimes it is a necessary investment to ensure savings in the future.

I have concerns about the level of investment Bellingham is making towards high-speed cable to service residence, current businesses, and future industries to help us keep pace with the economical challenges our community faces now and in the future.

We have a lot of challenges but it is going to be difficult to address them if we don’t increase the opportunities for our community members to earn a livable wage. Infrastructure that supports technology needs to become a priority otherwise we will continue to fall behind.

In essence – I fully support dig once. I’m perplexed at the hesitation for the city to fully get behind it. Regardless of if I am selected to be on city council, I would more than welcome the opportunity to discuss this initiative.

Best,

Lisa A.Anderson”

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Ryan M. Ferris

Sep 30, 2018

 I think it’s strange that open local council seats are filled to the end of the remaining term of the departing council person. In this case November 2019 for Councilmember Murphy’s seat.  This allows one person’s decision to enable a council based “election” of citywide representation for an almost arbitrary period of time; dependent only on when the council member quit?  I don’t know what law covers all of this. Why not fill the term until the “next possible” special election? We could elect an “at large” representative in February.  And in that case, why not just leave the seat vacant for some acceptable number of  months? Say six months or less. After all, as a voter and minus an election, I am going to know little about  and have little choice over who the Council chooses to represent me.

One outcome of “filling” a seat by Council fiat is that it creates a defacto incumbent, somewhat usurping the responsibility of the city’s residents to elect council members.  This is the second ‘younger’ city council member to leave us in the last few years, ostensibly for better paying positions.  (Cathy Lehman left us in 2014.)   I am sure few people make a decent living as elected city officials and the younger you are, the more you have to “manage your career” carefully in this difficult world. But perhaps this time the council could inquire of the possible appointed candidates if they will:

(1) promise to stay in their appointed position for the duration 

(2) and if they intend to run for office thereafter, could they please commit now to staying in their elected position until the end of their term?

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Jon Humphrey

Sep 30, 2018

Matthew Endrizzi says, “I fully support public broadband. The more accessible internet is to all income groups the better for all.

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Jon Humphrey

Oct 01, 2018

Greg Arnold says, “Not speaking as a representative of the board, but as a private citizen, I am very supportive of both public broadband and a reasonable dig once policy. I have been personally frustrated by the lack of affordable broadband options and the monopoly power used. Dig once is a way for the city to promote competition to the benefit of Bellingham citizens and the infrastructure placed can be paid over time through lease fees.”

Jamie Donaldson says, through the grapevine, that he supports Dig Once, and that it makes sense.

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