Whatcom Democrats Are Pro-Jail?!

Moreover, is a new jail of any size necessary?

Moreover, is a new jail of any size necessary?

So as a real progressive, I have to admit that the way our local Corporate Democrats spin their draconian policies gets under my skin. This week, I was rather annoyed to find the Democrats pushing for a new, unnecessary jail. They tried to spin the fact that they want a slightly smaller jail as being progressive. But the truth is that both parties, and County Executive Satpal Sidhu, are pushing for a new jail we don’t need.  

This news was regurgitated by the Cascadia Daily News because they print what they’re told to print. I’ve focused on their poor broadband reporting in the past, but now it looks like they’re just directly printing what the Chair of the Democratic Party, Andrew Redding, has to say. Yet their website claims they are progressive? 

Here are some highlights:

Their press release reads, in part, "Whatcom Democrats adopted a Resolution recognizing the need for a right-sized new jail." So clearly, they are pro-jail after all. Maybe they're not as into it as Satpal and his wealthy developer friends, but they came out and said it right there. They're Pro-Jail. Unfortunately, they're ignoring the technological solutions we have available to avoid the need for a jail in the first place!

But it gets worse: Of the total jail population, 98% of the inmates are pre-trial?! So, they're still technically innocent, but in jail. That right there indicates we don't need a new jail—of any size. 

Why are they doing this? To line the pockets of their wealthy developer friends while trying to appear progressive? They’re not progressive. Here are some other, recent highlights showing their hypocrisy. 

First, they’ve known for years that Satpal Sidhu is manipulative. For example, Satpal sat at my kitchen table during a broadband party and admitted he knew browser-based speed testing like Speedtest and the state’s broadband tester were NOT accurate. He also knew RRUL load testing was better. Yet when Kaylee Galloway asked me to write up a proposal for county-wide RRUL testing, a proposal that only cost $11,000, Satpal blocked it to appease Rob Fix and other neo-conservatives at the Port, and to protect big-telecom, of course. They couldn’t allow accurate speed testing to happen. Why? Because the plan was in place to fund a $100K study, using inaccurate browser based testing, as a means to justify giving $30 million in corporate welfare to big telecom. Andrew Redding did his part to sabotage progress on public broadband as well, as John Servais and I have both written about before. Now, the Dems never mention broadband or Dig Once at all.  

Second, what happened to alternative transit? The Bicycle Master Plan was a great idea that turned into a badly implemented joke. Are the Democrats giving us a mayoral candidate who cares about infrastructure at all? No. 

Third, the public power plan being pushed by the PUD starts with a corporate welfare handout to PSE for obsolete, aerial infrastructure. There are no plans to partner with local schools, libraries, or other robust steel structures to build solar VPPs (virtual power plants) like many other communities are doing. The only thing the PUD has confirmed is that they think green power is a good idea, and it will cost more. But they have no real idea how they’re going to do it.  

Fourth, the Democrats haven’t reacted in any significant way to an upcoming countywide layoff of a large number of teachers this fall. This layoff will target new teachers within their first three years and therefore technically on provisional contracts. Why? Because the Democrats care more about the tens of millions of dollars they are going to spend building new, non-green schools than they do about young teachers. It’s too bad they can’t treat their staff like the professionals they are, because that seems like an issue progressive Democrats should be all over. 

Fifth, they continue to lie to us about creating affordable housing. Nothing in Bellingham is affordable, and at the same time our property taxes keep going up—with no real improvements to show for the increases: high rents, a gutted educational system, awful broadband, terrible roads, etc. 

I could go on, but I’ll close with this:

The Democrats try to look progressive. Unfortunately, they’re more about looks than progress. It doesn't matter what they say because they almost never take action, and when they do, it's usually only an illusion, like the pretend progressives they actually are. Real progressives believe in real social reforms combined with real infrastructure reforms, because they go hand in hand. Redding’s admission that he’s in favor of a new jail shows us exactly what the problem is: The Whatcom Democrats are moving right and pushing neo-conservative values, like an unnecessary new jail. They are a disgrace to progressives. Time for a new party. 


About Jon Humphrey

Citizen Journalist • Bellingham • Member since May 23, 2017

Jon Humphrey is currently a music educator in Bellingham and very active in the community. He also has decades of professional IT experience including everything from support to development. He [...]

Comments by Readers

Ray Kamada

Apr 26, 2023

I took the jail tour a few years ago and recommend it. They’re pretty awful places. What struck me most back then was they were housing about 70 female inmates with access to only one, that’s right, ONE restroom! 

So, I haven’t looked at the issue in some time, but my impression back then was that, adjoining the awful jail were a comfy set of sheriffs’ offices that seemed to me quite suitable for conversion, that the existing jail could expand into.

Then again, I’m not a civil engineering expert. So, perhaps my suggestion isn’t feasible. But, if so, I’d like to be shown exactly why. 


Dianne Foster

Apr 26, 2023

I think the solution should be to gut the current jail and rebuild the inside.  Too bad the original was so poorly built,  and someone working at the county took off with the bond money….

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