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We Can Expand Port Commission to Five

By On

Eight months from today, on Tuesday, December 4, of this year, 2012, we could have two newly elected port commissioners join the present three at that day's port meeting. If we want. It is entirely up to us, the citizens and voters of Whatcom County. (I've corrected the nine months from my first post - simple arithmetic)

In 1994, State Representative Harriet Spanel, introduced and got the legislature and governor to pass and sign a law that allowed voters to expand the port to five commissioners. Port commissioners can put the measure on the ballot, but the people can do it themselves. We can easily decide to create two at-large seats, with one elected every two years to a four year term. The current three commission seats would continue to be elected to four year terms from the respective three county districts.

We can, if we want.

About John Servais

Posting Citizen Journalist • 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

Doug Starcher

Apr 04, 2012

Another option would be to elect a new Commissioner who agrees to expand the commission to 5 members, I suspect Michael might agree to that as a platform issue, if he chooses to run next year.

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Tip Johnson

Apr 05, 2012

The time for a five member port commission has come.  The Port can no longer maintain a low profile in local government.  The Port should be more involved in the community and the community should be able to be more involved in the Port.  The Ports performance during events of recent times increasingly underscores this need. 

Assuming we are going to have five commissioners, there are two ways to do it.  The easy way and the hard way. The Commission can authorize a proposition by resolution, or the voters of the district can qualify a petition with the County Auditor.

We should ask the Port, “Are you ready to work with this community, or must we work with the County Auditor?”  Ironically, their likely choice will only further prove the need. It will also determine the tenor of the election.

Choosing to adopt a resolution, we go to election saying, “Let the voters decide.”  The Port says what they want to say, and anybody else can, too.

Choosing to force their constituents to qualify a petition, it’s a campaign, we research and write, we carry petitions, we opine, develop slogans, distribute literature, forfeit our leisure and grow resentful of the burden and expense and the sheer annoyance of unresponsive government.  In short, it’s a fight.

What would any reasonable legislative board choose? I got to thinking ,“Time’s awastin’!”  and considered presenting a draft resolution for the Commission’s consideration, but…well, uh… Instead, herewith, I present for review, discussion and amendment by my erstwhile peers, the following draft petition and ballot proposition:


PETITION TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF PORT COMMISSIONERS

WHEREAS, RCW 53.12.115 authorizes port district voters to petition to increase the number of Port Commissioners, and provides that upon qualification by the County Auditor, the measure will be placed on the ballot and decided by election, and

WHEREAS, a five member commission is needed to foster better communication and public involvement with the Port, to allow more open discussion of Port policy, to assure more open and responsive Port performance and to provide better representation for the Port District.

NOW THEREFORE, we the undersigned qualified voters of the Port of Bellingham Port District do hereby respectfully present the Whatcom County Auditor this petition to place upon the ballot a proposition to increase the number of Port of Bellingham Port Commissioners from three (3) to five (5), submitted in the following form:

Port of Bellingham: Number of Port Commissioners
Voters of the Port of Bellingham Port District have qualified a petition to increase the number of port commissioners.  This proposition would increase the number of commissioners of the Port District from three (3) commissioners to five (5) commissioners. Should this proposition be:
APPROVED___
REJECTED___

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Tip Johnson

Apr 05, 2012

And just to make it clear we are willing to make it easy on the Port, here’s a sample resolution they can cut and paste into next weeks agenda:

A RESOLUTION of the Port Commission of the
Port of Bellingham submitting a proposition to a vote by
the qualified voters of the Port District whether the
number of Commissioners of the Port District
should be increased from three Commissioners to
five Commissioners.

WHEREAS, the laws of the State of Washington, RCW 53.12.115, authorize the Port Commission the Port of Bellingham to resolve that a ballot proposition may be submitted to the qualified voters of the Port District to determine whether there should be an increase in the number of port commissioners from three (3) to five (5).

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Port Commission of the Port of Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington, as follows:

Section 1. Finding. The Port Commission finds and declares that the best interests of the Port of Bellingham require the Port of Bellingham to submit the proposition whether the number of Port Commissioners of the Port District should be increased from the current three (3) Commissioners to five (5) Commissioners for voter approval or rejection at the election to be held on November 2, 2012.

Section 2. Authorization For Election. The Whatcom County Auditor, as ex-officio supervisor of elections in Whatcom County, is hereby requested to find and to call and conduct such election, to be held by mail-in ballot within the Port District on such day and to submit to the qualified electors of the Port District for their approval or rejection, a proposition providing for the increase in the number of Port Commissioners.

Section 3. Approval of Form of Ballot Proposition. The Secretary of the Port of Bellingham Port Commission is hereby authorized and directed to certify said proposition to the Auditor of Whatcom County, State of Washington, in the following form to be placed on the ballot for the 2012 General Election in that form or substantially similar form as to properly place the proposition before the qualified voters:

NUMBER OF PORT COMMISSIONERS
The Commissioners of the Port of Bellingham adopted Resolution No.
_____, concerning a proposition to increase the number of port
commissioners. This proposition would increase the number of
commissioners of the Port District from three (3) commissioners to
five (5) commissioners. Should this proposition be approved?
Yes ......................................... [ ]
No .......................................... [ ]

Section 4. Qualified Voters. The persons entitled to vote on the above-mentioned proposition shall be those registered voters within the boundaries of the Port District.

Section 5. Required Affirmative Vote For Passage. The aforementioned proposition would pass if a majority of the registered voters at the aforementioned election voted “yes” on the aforementioned proposition.
ADOPTED by the Port Commission of the Port of Bellingham at a regular meeting thereof this _____ day of _______, 2012.


PORT COMMISSION of the PORT OF BELLINGHAM

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Todd Granger

Apr 05, 2012

But Tip?
Like three county commissioners, and the new 1979 Home Rule Charter Commission?
That’s worked out well, shown best at the Port of Gooseberry Point?
At-Large, it’ll be perfect, and then we can have our district rep’s (Brenner and Weimer) absent from those secret backroom District 3 giveaways.

 

 

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