What was New in the year 2000
Tuesday, Nov 7, 2000
Today's issue of the Western Front, the student newspaper at WWU, has an editorial that is extremely critical of Happy Valley, its residents, and particularly of Tip Johnson and John Servais. I will be asking the nine editorial board members if they are ready to stand behind this hate piece. It is an elitist view - an upper class contempt for others. They basically wrote it from the press release put out by the WWU Public Information Office. We will publish more on our WWU section. Read it and judge for yourself.
Monday, November 6
I'm voting for Nader. Here is why. I refuse to waste my vote on Gore. The Gore campaign is using fear to urge Nader backers to switch to Gore - mainly fear of new Supreme Court justices. Did you know the two most extreme right justices now on the court - Scalia and Thomas - were approved by Democrat controlled Senates? So, where is the risk? Gore is no guarantee of anything. Vote your conscience, whether that is Gore, Bush or Nader.
Tuesday, October 31
New link to the Siskiyou Wild Rivers National Monument campaign is now posted to the left. I encourage you to consider supporting this project. It is a beautiful wild area with ancient forests in Oregon that needs to be preserved now or it will get logged off and be lost forever. Yes, ancient forests should be kept. Tree farms are renewable but ancient forests take hundreds of years to grow. We have only about 1 percent of the original ancient forests left - we can well afford to keep them. Contrary to timber industry lies, preserving them will not raise lumber prices. It just denies them some last fat profits from our public lands. Please visit the site and learn for yourself why this should be a new National Monument and how you can help.
Monday, October 30, 2000
This could well be the last hour in the history of the world that all living human beings are on earth.
As the International Space Station (ISS) is permanently lived in, we will not have everyone back again for 20 years. During that time, we may put up another station, or send a group of humans to another planet, or start a colony on the moon, or maybe even start a deep space probe with humans. For the past couple years - since MIR was left empty - we have had all of us on earth most of the time. That ends in an hour. Centuries from now this date, October 31, 2000, could be noted as the last day that all humans were still on earth. We'll never all be back here again. Never. And that is a never we can probably say. We are about to escape the nest.
In an hour, when it is October 31 in most of the world, the Russian rocket will lift the first three permanent crew members of up to the ISS. This past week I've been watching the news for CNN or someone to note this passage we are in. Am I the only one fascinated with this?
Wednesday, Sep 20
Tomorrow evening is a meeting dealing with toxic waste discharges. The Washington State Department of Ecology is holding it at the Court House council chambers in Bellingham. They are looking for opinions of their plan to reduce toxins in our environment. Their proposal is very limited. Read Robyn du Pre's analysis.
Tuesday, Sep 19
Don't forget to vote today. I like to imagine that those who visit sites such as nwcitizen are regular voters who don't need reminding. Voting - and voting intelligently - is the primary duty of citizens. Participation in public discussions on issues is important to helping our representatives work for us and for helping ourselves to form and reshape our opinions - which helps us to vote intelligently. NWCitizen tries to help the discussion.
Monday, Sep 18
We have the link up for the official Online Voters Guide, posted by the Secretary of State's office. Little trivia. Retiring Secretary of State Ralph Munro is a graduate of WWU. During Ralph's over 20 years in office, he has done his best to improve how we vote and the voters pamphlet.
Friday, Sep 15
NW Citizen strongly endorses Independent write in candidate Ken Wilcox for 42nd State Legislative representative. Ken, like many of us environmentalists, watched with disappointment as the local Democratic party allowed Bob Imhof to run as their candidate. If Ken gets 1% of all votes in Tuesday's primary election then he will be 'on the ballot' for the November general election. Visit Ken's web site. Vote for Ken Wilcox.
Wednesday, Sep 12
A drawing of the proposed cell tower for Happy Valley. It may end up with flush mounted antennas, or fake tree branches as shown in the Bellingham Herald article. Unless Western reconsiders it rejection of the antenna on the roof on Buchannan Apartments, this tower will be a reality - branches or not.
Sunday, Sep 10
No to the Sumas Enegry Plant. Tis time for all Whatcom County citizens with common sense to weigh in against the proposed Sumas Energy Plant. This project will have a negative impact on all of Whatcom County. The opponents now have a fact filled web site, if not the easiest to read. There is a petition you can download, sign and mail in.
A rally is planned at the border in Sumas for Thursday, September 14 at 9 am. If you can make it.
Wednesday, September 6
Sprint needs a cell phone tower for coverage of the Western campus and Happy Valley. The best location is atop a building on Western's campus. But Western doesn't want it, so Happy Valley is being forced by the city to accept it. So, who's the nimby? Want to help? Happy Valley needs help. Read our article.
Tuesday, September 5, 2000
I'm back. Hello. There are plenty of issues that the Bellingham Herald is ignoring, so it should be fun to get back into publishing this web site. The fantasy is the Herald will improve and I can spend more time enjoying a personal life. It was really nice these past few months. Since starting NW Citizen back in 1995, this has been both an obsession and a repulsive job. We citizens are simply not told the truth nor the full story about the issues that are important. I try to research the issues, ususally by reading the original ducuments when the governemtn agencies will allow me to, and then print the unreported story. And point out some common sense observations. It is then up to you - fellow citizen - to act on your own common sense. Please do.
Wednesday, May 10
I continue to not have time to post news and issues. Sorry. Hopefully I'll be back soon.
In the meantime, I highly recommend Friends of Whatcom and The Skinny at Every Other Weekly. They are linked from the Local Links colum to the left. Friends in particular, under the editor ship of former two term city council person Tip Johnson, is doing an excellent job of filling in where the Bellingham Herald ignores important local issues. NW Citizen started in 1995 as the first local online news source. I feel a warmth in having the company of other web sites now. If you know of a local site that deserves linking, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, May 10
I continue to not have time to post news and issues. Sorry. Hopefully I'll be back soon.
In the meantime, I highly recommend Friends of Whatcom and The Skinny at Every Other Weekly. They are linked from the Local Links colum to the left. Friends in particular, under the editor ship of former two term city council person Tip Johnson, is doing an excellent job of filling in where the Bellingham Herald ignores important local issues. NW Citizen started in 1995 as the first local online news source. I feel a warmth in having the company of other web sites now. If you know of a local site that deserves linking, please email me at email@example.com
Sunday, March 26, 2000
I'm back. Hope we have some staying power here. But, you know, there are several other outstanding web sites in Bellingham and Whatcom County that are now reporting news that the Herald misses, ignores or covers up. And we citizens can now learn more of what our public officials are up to, what is happening that will affect us as residents, and what we need to know as functioning citizens. We are no longer dependent on the Herald. On the left is a list of web sites I recommend you check out. Indeed, I'll be referencing them more often in the future.
Now, here is a fun treat. My teenage son talked me into taking him to watch the Kingdome implosion today. Up at 5am and we parked in downtown Seattle about 7 am. We walked south and, what luck, we got one of the best spots possible - on the curb at Jackson and 3rd. Below are two digital photos I took looking straight south at the Kingdome. On the left can be seen the explosions rippling up the structure. On the right, maybe 7 seconds later, can be seen the last of the roof ribs sticking up into the blue sky, the last rib of the roof to stay pointing up - but notice it is cleanly broken off - a jagged point. A split second later it was on its way down. How did that guy move into the picture so fast? I don't know, but it is evidence of a few seconds time as the explosions kept firing off. Very sharp loud cracking explosions - amazing. The TV sound just does not capture the sharpness of them. For reference, that is the RR station clock tower on the left border of each picture.
Click either photo to view the original uncropped photo - each about 190K in size. In keeping with NW Citizen policy on photos, you can use either photo any way you want, no charge, but give credit to nwcitizen.com.
Sunday, Feb 13, 2000
Gentle reader, it is time for a concise explanation of why the pipeline ruptured and exploded. Friday's Herald has a front page story telling how Olympic Pipeline is suing IMCO Construction for causing the explosion. Below is a concise explanation of events that is probably no surprise to those familiar with the details of this tragedy. What I am contributing new is the information on the current cover-up and corruption by the city.
It appears there is a sweetheart agreement between the City of Bellingham (read Mayor Mark) and Olympic Pipeline. It goes like this. The city will not sue Olympic and in return Olympic will not sue the city. Also, Olympic will buy the Whatcom Reach development and donate it to the city as a new part of Whatcom Falls Park. Olympic will also buy a 200 foot wide strip along Whatcom Creek from Haskell Corporation and donate it to the city for a trail greenway. There may be other land that Mayor Mark will tell Olympic to buy and donate.
Who is the scapegoat? IMCO Construction. Normally, Olympic would sue the city along with IMCO. IMCO did their damage to the pipe - yes they did - but while under the supervision of the city Public Works Department - and therefore it is our Public Works Department that is responsible for the damage to the pipeline where the spill and explosion occurred. Public Works, like idiots, installed a new water pipe too close to the Olympic pipeline and Public Works hired IMCO to do the construction work and Public Works was in charge of the construction and Public Works failed to notify Olympic Pipeline to send up an inspector to make sure no damage was done to the pipeline. The Herald, of course, has protected city hall these past 8 months with no serious examination of Public Works participation in this tragedy.
So they all caused the tragedy. Our Public Works contributed by stupidly putting water pipes within inches of the gasoline pipeline, by not notifying Olympic of what they were doing, and by hiring a construction company that did nod use well trained heavy equipment operators. IMCO contributed by stupidly working around an explosive pipeline without trained personnel, denting it and then covering it up without telling anyone - sort of teenage type behavior. Olympic contributed by ignoring their testing data that showed a problem right at that spot where the spill later gushed out. On explosion day, Olympic honchos were so concerned with giving a good show to some fat cat visiting investors that they told their staff to keep the lines pumping even as the computers said there was a problem - sort of like teenagers ignoring warning signs.
Sort of like Pearl Harbor - everyone involved ignored the warning they received and tried to blame someone else after the bombing. Most tragedies are not the result of a single blunder. They are the result of accumulated mistakes that eventually reach the bursting point. This time, it was literally. Now there is a corrupt attempt by our city to avoid its share of responsibility. And the Herald is helping by not fully reporting Public Works involvement.
The Bellingham Herald officially announced their web site today, saying they will post more articles online and increase the depth of reporting. Well, welcome to the Internet, Herald. I've been here since 1995 wondering how long it would take you. Now, on the web you have no monopoly like you have with your daily newspaper. On the web there are already several excellent original and reliable sources of Bellingham and Whatcom news. On the web you will have to compete. Something you have never had to do with the paper.
Yesterday the Herald reported that the Referendum has been certified. It took them 10 days. They still managed to not mention Tip Johnson's name.
Friday, Feb 11
The Herald is still not reporting the certification of the Referendum. 8 days and counting.
Thursday, Feb 10
What a newspaper! Tonight the GP Water Rate Referendum is formally on the Agenda for next Monday's City Council meeting. But the Bellingham Herald is still holding back the story. A week now. What respect for the citizens. The editors call themselves adults? They act like teenagers. If they don't like the news then they won't publish it. Maybe it will go away. Maybe they will figure out a negative slant. One tactic they have used often in the past is to publish a story criticizing an issue without ever first running a story acknowledging the issue even exists. Maybe this delay is giving time to opponents of the Referendum to come up with reasons against it which the Herald can then print. What a fine local newspaper. Even KGMI today announced the certification - finally.
The city council is not planning any formal action next Monday evening. Indeed, the council now has an awkward decision ahead for it. Tip Johnson pushed this referendum through and he is not as politically naive as were the Lake Whatcom Initiative folks whom the council lied to and generally abused. With Tip Johnson the council knows full well that they have a problem - they will have to obey the law.
With this, I am adding a new link to Friends of Whatcom web site. This site pushed the referendum and is putting up some great local information on the environment. Doug Tolchin and Tip Johnson are two of the key people putting their energy behind it. Clean water in our Bellingham Bay. Clean air in our downtown. And more. Check them out.
How polluted is the air in downtown Bellingham? Perhaps very dangerously. The Northwest Air Pollution Authority is refusing to publicly release its full report on air quality in downtown Bellingham I hear from reliable sources that the report shows high levels of cancer causing toxins in our air. Now, where could these be coming from? GP of course. The Authority has been in violation of Washington State Public Disclosure laws for several months now as it refuses to release its full and most current report to a citizen requesting it. Expect this issue to become public soon - and expect the Herald to either also try and cover up this story (which it has been doing so far) or to put an anti-citizen slant on any story it does print.
Sunday, Feb 6
The WTO - Seattle - December 1999 - what happened? We are now reading different accounts in different publications. Damage control by the city of Seattle. The Feds are laying low. Were the Labor Unions, with their 10,000 marchers, just pawns of Clinton? Paul de Armond has researched and written a thorough account of what he has learned so far. He raises some good questions that have not been answered by the Seattle authorities. Netwar In The Emerald City.
Friday, Feb 4
The Referendum has been certified. Yesterday, Feb 3, Shirley Forslof, the county Auditor, certified that the petition of referendum has the required number of voter signatures - approximately 1,600. She sent the referendum back to Therese Holm, the city Finance Director for action. Theresa will now present it to the City Council.
Funny the Bellingham Herald had nothing on this in today's paper. They are probably trying to figure how to negatively report this news and also how to do it without yet mentioning Tip Johnson's name in connection with it. The Herald has trouble just reporting some issues that they don't like.
Friday, Jan 28, 2000
Over 3,000 signatures on the GP water rate referendum were submitted to Therese Holm, city Finance Director, this afternoon at 4:30. The number of signatures that must be validated is 1,558 - almost guaranteeing the petition will go to the city council and possibly the voters at an election later this year.
Tip Johnson, accompanied by two dozen citizens who helped gather signatures, submitted the stack of petitions calling for a referendum vote on the city council's special water rate ordinance for GP. This is an amazing display of citizen concern because the petition has only had 7 days of circulation to gather the signatures.
What is next? Well, Therese will give the petitions to the County Auditor who will then have staff go through checking the names against the registered voter list for the city of Bellingham. When or if the Auditor, Shirley Forslof, determines there are 1,558 qualifying signatures, she will then send the petition of referendum back to the City Council. This is expected about mid February. The council then has some hard decisions to make.
The petition does not try to set water rates. Rather it calls for a citizen vote to approve or disapprove the special low rate the council gave to GP last month that is about one tenth what the rest of us pay for water in Bellingham. If the voters approve the referendum then the special low rate is eliminated. It is then up to the council to set a rate again or let GP pay what the rest of us pay.
Tip said he has been thinking today about how GP has been getting special treatment lately, getting off cheap on cleaning up the Bay, getting a free ride on permits for a huge warehouse on the waterfront, and then the subsidized water rates.
"We need anchor industries", said Tip, "but unless they behave responsibly, they can be a hindrance to the general economic well being of our community. We can't have the citizens continuing to pick up the hidden costs of industry and then also having to breathe the stuff. Cheap abundant water allows GP to keep using outdated technologies that pollute. A utility model that rewards conservation of water would encourage GP to invest in better technologies. This would produce less pollution in our air, leave more water in the Nooksack River for salmon, and curtail the siltation of south Lake Whatcom."
We have a photo of Tip and the petition supporters in the lobby of city hall just before turning in the petitions. The photo is about 80K in size and will open in a new window. Feel free to download it. They are the very picture of Americana - citizens all.
Wednesday, Jan 26
NEWS FLASH! City attempts to stifle citizen effort. Finance Director Therese Holm revealed that the deadline for petitions would be Friday, January 28th - not Monday, January 31st, as would be expected from a common sense reading of the City Charter. This means efforts to overturn the City Council's sweetheart water deal with G-P must conclude prior to the end of business on Friday. See the Friends of Whatcom home page for details, printable petitions, fact sheets, etc.
Friday, Jan 21, 2000
WATER REFERENDUM 2000 - In an ambitious public interest project reminiscent of the Hoag's Pond Referendum, Friends of Whatcom County have undertaken an effort to gather 2000 SIGNATURES BEFORE JANUARY 28th. If successfully qualified, the referendum will ask city voters to approve or reject the City's new water deal with Georgia Pacific. The 'Friends' have compiled some very interesting information describing the relationship between water consumption and pollution in our community, and detailing how management of the city's water system could encourage installation of 'best available technology'. This could be a turning point for Bellingham's air and water quality - and you could help! The 'Friends' have made fact sheets and petitions downloadable at their website. Check it out at: www.friendsofwhatcom.com
What was New in 1999
Back to Top of Page
Thursday, Dec 2, 1999
There is beginning evidence that the vandals responsible for wrecking the peaceful demonstrations are a group out of central Oregon. Eugene in particular. They may have been organized. Why did the police not know this group was coming to Seattle to do their destruction? Put another way, did the Seattle police know? Why were they allowed their one hour of free destruction by the Seattle police on Tuesday?
NW Citizen was the first with news of this sub-group. It was reported here Wednesday morn at 8 am. Only tonight, 30 some hours later, are mainstream news organizations reporting this.
It appears that Seattle Police Chief Stamper was very naive and was without a plan. He reacted in a confused manner, striking out with his forces at the peaceful demonstrators and turning most everyone involved against the police. Peaceful demonstrators, neighbors on Capitol Hill, downtown merchants, WTO delegates, and more.
So - who were the hooligans? Why were they allowed to act so freely? And who benefited from their violence?
Wednesday, Dec 1, 1999
You can check CNN and the others. But you will only find the sensation focused reporting - good cops and rowdy demonstrators. To learn more, check out these web sites.
Grist magazine - has coverage from the point of view of protesters.
Globalize This - a site devoted to supporting the protests in Seattle.
Below are some sites in Seattle. Coverage and perspective will vary.
The Seattle Insider - a good site. They work with Kiro 7 TV, the most reliable TV news in Seattle.
The Independent Media Center - a wealth of information here - from downtown Seattle.
For Seattle TV news, Kiro 7 appears to be the most credible. They openly show the random police violence. Tonight, the people are protesting the police crackdown. The protesters are peaceful. The police are violent.
6 pm Wednesday evening
Barry Bowen submitted this first hand report of the WTO protests.
WTO Rally Demonstrates Responsible and Irresponsible Protests
On Tuesday, Nov. 30th, over 35,000 gathered in Seattle -- largely Union and conservation activists -- to demand fair and responsible world trade rather than the current brand of transnational globalism promoted to date under the auspices of the World Trade Organization. My 11 year old daughter and I joined the approximately 600 participants from Whatcom County.
The remarkably large, well-organized, and legally conducted rally was marred by fairly small bands of roving hooligans not connected, except by proximity, to the large and orderly rally. That was unfortunate. The fixation of many media outlets on the conduct of a few rather than the message of the masses, compounded the mess.
The Whatcom County labor council locally, and the AFL-CIO at the national level, deserve credit for their tremendous effort. The immense rally had negotiated the route and schedule of the march through Seattle and the pre-march rally at Memorial Stadium. Legal permits were in hand. More than a thousand volunteer marshals regulated marching crowds.
I joined in the march due to a three-fold objection to the current WTO regime. The organization should not conduct business in secret. Its proceedings should be open and transparent. And two fundamental policy reforms are essential. Responsible laws to protect workers and safeguard the environment are essential to fair trade and must be incorporated into the WTO process.
As for the interplay between the hooligans and the legal rally, there was very little. The midday scuffles happened before the labor rally left memorial stadium and headed into town and the late afternoon scuffles erupted as we were packing up the buses. Many smaller groups already on the streets did merge in with the labor marchers, but to my knowledge, no acts of vandalism occurred when we were filling the streets.
It is regrettable that the irresponsible and totally unacceptable acts of a few dominate the attention of the media and overshadow the real message of yesterday's rally.
-- end of Barry's report.
8 am Wednesday morning:
WTO protests in Seattle. News media have to share in the blame for the violence yesterday and last night. For weeks, the Seattle media, especially the TV news commentators, have predicted violence. This brings to the scene of the peaceful demonstrations those few who don't want to miss a chance for violence. They had no basis for predicting the violence other than to spike up their news broadcasts.
As yesterday gets dissected over the next year, we will learn the following. A small - maybe 40 - group of people merged with the thousands of protesters. Yesterday afternoon, they donned their face masks at the same time and started smashing windows and breaking anything they could. For almost an hour they did this. The police disappeared and allowed this violence to continue. This is when the store windows were broken and the graffiti sprayed on buildings in the heart of downtown Seattle. Many peaceful protesters tried to stop the vandalism. Finally the police returned, gassed the peaceful protesters, beat some and started pushing all protesters out of the downtown. Of course the vandals took off their masks and melted into the crowd of peaceful protesters.
No, I was not there. I base the above on some credible reports I have received. I will be challenged on my facts and feel they will substantially stand up. I have been present when riots have taken place going back over 30 years. I have seen the police hold back until a riot is going well before moving. It is a police tactic that I do not understand and have never heard explained.
Questions that need to be answered: Who organized the small group of vandals with the masks? How was the word spread around to be present for the vandalism? Why did the police not move in to stop the very very few vandals during that long time of free destruction? Why did the police then overreact against everyone?
Now, this Wednesday morning, the Seattle police are simply arresting peaceful protesters who are blocks outside the "no protest perimeter". So, the perimeter is meaningless. The police may indeed provoke more violence. Channel 7 live news is now showing this at 8 am. The police are charging into peaceful crowds and arresting people. It does not bode well for today. Watch for the police to change the rules many times today in their blind effort to stop protesters. The police are going to have fun with the peaceful protesters today and prod them into anger. Already the police are acting unlawfully in taking protesters signs and personal possessions before the protesters even get to the allowed protest areas. Shame. Shades of Chicago 68 when the police rioted.
Tuesday, Nov 23
The Herald cannot resist editorializing in their reporting of last night's public hearing on GP water rates. Although the reporter no doubt wrote the comments, it is the job of editors to delete editorial comments from articles. Today, the Herald on page A4, 4th column buries criticism of speakers which poses as reporting. It starts with the sentence, "Very few of the speakers acknowledged that the pulp mill uses untreated water...". The editorial comment continues through the next sentence.
The Herald and the radio stations are united with the city government and GP in supporting no water rates for GP. The discrediting of opponents is an old one. Today's article, while reporting the vacuous testimony of a relative of the Port of Bellingham Executive Director, did not even note the long and intelligent testimony of Doug Tolchin - a person who has led the questioning of the give away programs to GP. The Herald reports an unruly crowd without fairly reporting how council members displayed short tempers and arbitrary rulings in their contempt for the public.
Indeed, the Herald article this morning starts out with: "It was loud, it was rude, it was chaotic, it was democracy in action." The writer and the editors of the Herald don't have a clue what democracy is. The scene described was a result of poor planning - or no planning - by city officials and by a knee jerk, no thinking, response by council members to high public concern about the GP water rate issue. Democracy was prevented from taking place by the events last night. Only a lucky few even heard the testimony. Fewer got to testify. Last night was an example of democracy denied.
Democracy is allowing all who want to participate to do so. Democracy is respect for the rights and opinions of citizens. Democracy is a public hearing that is public and well run. Democracy is not public officials insulting and yelling at citizens who just want to hear what is going on. Instead of being angry, the council should have been understanding of how citizens basic rights were not being met and rescheduled the hearing for a larger forum. Citizen rights? How strange a concept it is to some elected officials.
The Fire department chiefs and captains have been present in the council chambers many times with overflow crowds and the department has not raised any concern. Last spring, when the city gave awards to fire department employees, the place was overflowing - with the chief and all off duty captains there. I was there and amazed. Overflowing. No problem. Ahh - but last night - throw them out. Fire code you know. Double standard? Yes. A number of high school students were in attendance last evening to get extra points for their classes. They got a good lesson in power politics. Including the dozen or more who were thrown out of the chambers on the pretext of fire safety.
There is a strong attempt by the Herald, the city and KGMI to marginalize those who seek to have GP pay their way for the resources they use. If you have information or stories about other things being done to twist the facts, let me know. NW Citizen will publish those that hold water. Pun intended. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, Nov 22
The Bellingham city council held the long awaited public hearing on how to charge Georgia Pacific for their use of city water. It was a circus. Overflow crowd - and the council didn't handle it well. Some yelling, some threats, some anger - from the council members as well as from the citizens. Then the council invited everyone in to sit on the floor or anywhere. Of course then the Fire Department came in and cleared out all the excess people. A circus. Finally, the hearing. Many who could not fit into the council chamber could not hear the proceedings and left. The council held the hearing till almost 10 pm and adjourned till next Monday, November 29. There was talk of finding a larger meeting room. Mayor Mark was on vacation.
There is very high interest in the rate GP is to be charged for their water. People want GP to pay their fair share - same as all other businesses and homes. The politicians and bureaucrats are trying to go against this public desire. And they are very foolish to do so. After years of not caring, people of Bellingham now care about this. We'll see how the Herald does tomorrow morning.
Wednesday, Nov 10
The Bellingham Herald is again protecting Mayor Mark. He deserves the criticism for the surprise day-after-the-election tax increase. He held the budget back from the council and lied during his campaign about how he didn't believe taxes needed to be raised. Mark is a smooth snake oil salesman. He showed it again with this tax increase. The four most gullible council members - in order they are Louise, Barbara, Leslie and John - bought Mark's smooth sales pitch. Now they are "confused". They have been confused for 4 years. Meanwhile, the Herald turns the spotlight on the council members, showing their photos and barely mentioning that this was designed and orchestrated by mayor Mark. Call the mayor's office. Complain. It won't do you any good. Be prepared for more of the same. And a continuously confused council. Is there anything citizens can do? Yes. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, Nov 9
Good Grief. I can't leave town for a week on a business trip without the whole place going to hell in a hand basket. That election had several really disappointing winners. The two races that are the most disappointing are Brenner and Asmundson being reelected. We missed an opportunity to have a first class representative with Barry Bowen. Our county could really use his practical abilities just now. That is now lost.
With Asmundson, we in the city will have one hell of a fight for 4 years just trying to keep up with this sneak. I had good reports in October that mayor Mark had a hidden budget increase that he was preparing for after the election. I didn't post it because I couldn't get enough evidence to satisfy myself. Well look what happened. The day after the election - wham. A tax increase courtesy of mayor Mark. During the election campaign he said repeatedly that he would not raise taxes. On KGMI radio last Friday he weaseled out and Brett and Debbie let him slide, with Mark saying he never exactly said that. Folks, that is duplicity. That is what our mothers taught us was a lie. Mark is off on his second term as mayor in his own style. Those of you who voted for him can only blame yourselves - not Mark. He is true to his past stripes. Watch for more major tax increases from this sneak. I'll give you a glimpse of one on Wed evening. One that he has been putting together for weeks.
Friday, Oct 29
The City of Bellingham today admitted violating the State Public Disclosure Laws. Mayor Mark's Planning Department has been forced to disclose their correspondence with WWU whereby the Mark's planning staff and Western secretly worked together on the Happy Valley Neighborhood Plan. All the while, Happy Valley neighbors were denied permission to even see the draft plan. It took a formal public disclosure request from myself and repeated emails to city officials for three weeks to drag this information out. Some day - after the election - you might read about this in the Herald.
Vote for Russ Weston. He is honest. Mayor Mark is running a corrupt city hall.
Wednesday, Oct 27
The City of Bellingham has signed papers to buy the land around Hoag's Pond. The Herald is sitting on this story until after the election - they probably don't want to embarrass the mayor and hurt his reelection. You remember the Hoag's Pond issue? Mayor Mark helped put together an insider deal for a long time City manager to sell him city property on the cheap. The deal was stopped by an referendum campaign spearheaded by former city council member Tip Johnson and NW Citizen. Mayor Mark reversed his decision only after we exposed the deal and gathered public opinion against it.
The new deal proves our referendum probably saved city taxpayers about half a million dollars. The city is paying about half a million dollars for property equivalent to what it would have paid a million dollars for had the referendum not shown true values. I will post details when I have time - and can get a copy of the contracts. The City Council is expected to rubber stamp the deal in a week or two. They may wait until - after the election.
Well, fellow voters, the Hoag's Pond debacle is only one of many examples of corruption in the Mayor's office. Mark is corrupt in his administration of our city - as I have reported here in the past. He also tolerates corruption by his department heads. Corruption does not need the handing over of money - as Mark said at the Council meeting. Money is only one motivation for corruption. There are may other motivators, including just helping friends.
Mayor Mark came unglued and blew up at the City Council meeting last week - October 18. No, you did not miss the article in the Herald. Mayor Mark denied there is any corruption in his administration at city hall. He angrily challenged me when I presented evidence to the City Council of favoritism by the city departments to the builder of controversial housing and apartments in Happy Valley. I did not use the word 'corruption'. Only the mayor did. Interestingly, the Mayor did not deny my facts - he made excuses to the council for lack of enforcement of city laws. The Herald plans an article on the controversy - after the election.
The city routinely violates the Public Disclosure laws - as I have personal experience, and about which the Mayor knows but does nothing. An example is the current withholding - for two months now - of the Draft Happy Valley Neighborhood Plan from the public. It will now be released on Monday, Nov 1. The Mayor does not want the outcry from Happy Valley to hurt his reelection. The Herald knows of these abuses - and may report on them - after the election.
Yes, we do need a new mayor. An honest person. Vote for Russ Weston next Tuesday.
Monday, Oct 25
Promising $millions in new projects, Barbara Brenner is in a spending mood
. She is buying votes the old fashioned way.
Sunday, Oct 24
A smear piece appeared in the Whatcom Watch, of all places. It smears Barry Bowen. I have posted an analysis and Barry's Comment on this issue.
Check it out. Also check out Barry's web site
. I strongly endorse Barry over Barbara Brenner. The Whatcom Watch web site has not posted the October issue yet, so no link to the article.
Wednesday, Oct 13
The E-brochure for Clarence Bob Sr. hits the web. Clarence could make history by being the first Lummi, or non-white for that matter, to win a seat on the county council. The Building Industry may bankroll his opponent, but they haven't edged him out in cyberspace! Give Clarence a read.
Wednesday, Sep 29
The EOW refuses to admit they screwed up with their story making fun of Mayor candidate Russ Weston. The story was fiction - a plant by the city Parks Director Byron Elemdorf. What we are seeing is an effort by EOW editor Tim Johnson to do all that he can to prevent Russ Weston from being elected Mayor of Bellingham. As a voter you will have to make an effort to learn where Russ is on the issues. The Herald and EOW are both skewing their editorial policies to hurt Russ Weston and favor Asmundson.
Apartment developer Derek Stebner must be on good terms with Mayor Mark. His projects get special treatment and favors from city inspectors that virtually no other developers ever get. A wink and a nod. Last Saturday, the Herald had an article on the opening of Stebner's newest apartment in Happy Valley. The Herald left out some very important facts that shed light on what really was happening.
Finally, tomorrow morning you will read in the Bellingham Herald about a big natural gas pipeline to be built from Sumas to Cherry Point and then under the Straits to Vancouver Island. This pipeline follows the same path as the secretly planned double track railroad will follow - as first reported here on Aug. 17.
Monday, September 20, 1999
Did you read the funny story in the current issue of the Every Other Weekly about Russ Weston trying repeatedly to put his campaign for mayor signs up in a city park? Fuuuunnnnny. Problem is it is not true. Read the real story here. NW Citizen got curious and checked out the facts - something EOW editor Tim Johnson did not do. Seems Mayor Asmundsen's lackeys in city hall - in this case the Parks Department - are out there doing the necessary dirty work to get Mark re-elected. Don't expect Mark to take any action against Ellemdorf.
Yes, NWCitizen is back in print, so to speak. And will be till the election at least. I've been working on several issues that the Herald is ignoring or covering up for public officials. There are several election races that are crucial to our next four years here in Bellingham and Whatcom County. I'll be trying to bring these issues out in the open so you can have more information when making your voting decisions. So - check back and stay tuned. - John Servais
Thursday, August 19
The Whatcom Human Rights Task Force
now has their web site here at NWCitizen. We are honored. Led by Dr. Vernon Damani Johnson of WWU, the task force has become a real and positive influence in our community. The task force works for more tolerance of cultural diversity and it seeks a joining of hands against hate
. Please check out their site. I will let you know here when they publish important new information. http://www.nwcitizen/humanrights/
Tuesday, August 17
Lets get NW Citizen restarted with a jolt. Cherry Point. With the pending approval of a super dock out there, the side effects of this dock are not being told to the citizens of Whatcom County. The Bellingham Herald is silent. The Port is silent. The main aftershock will be the building of a cross county railroad linking the Cherry Point bulk terminal with Sumas and the Canadian railroads. It will cut right across our north county farmland and bypass Lynden. Trains will run day and night -huge trains - one after another. Noise. Goodby quiet Lynden. It may be double tracks to accommodate the returning empty trains going back to east of the mountains for a another load.
You doubt this? Ask a Port Commissioner and watch him or her squirm. Ask your County Council representative directly what the "bulk" cargoes will be. Coal? Wheat? What? How many ships? How will the bulk cargo get there? The rail lines over Stevens Pass cannot handle this load. The Canadian rails can. Can we stop this? Yes, but only if the folks living in the north part of Whatcom County start asking questions now of their representatives and Port Commissioners. And the Governor. NWCitizen will post more information over the next few weeks. And maybe the Herald will finally report this.
Saturday, August 14
A series of 54 photos of Whatcom Creek and the explosion area
were taken the afternoon of July 20 during a walking tour of the fuel leak site, Hannah Creek and down to the Whatcom Creek gorge where the explosion was at its peak. Thor Cutler, the On-Scene Coordinator for the EPA for the explosion cleanup, provided the guided tour. He allowed me to photograph anything I saw.
Thursday, June 10
We have two photos of the smoke plumes
from the explosions in Bellingham today.
Wednesday, May 19
The Bellingham Herald headline has it backwards. It should read: Bay pollution bill vetoed. It is interesting that a bill the Herald would not even tell us about earlier this year now gets their headline treatment. (If you don't read the Herald, it says: Bay cleanup bill vetoed.)
Late yesterday, Gov. Gary Locke vetoed HB 1448 - in no small measure because normal citizens of Bellingham told him we knew this bill would not clean up our Bellingham Bay. It would permanently pollute it with mercury laden dredgings from Whatcom Waterway. We citizens blew the whistle on a bill intended to get little public notice. Rep. Kelli Linville put this bill together in secret with GP and the Port. She purposely avoided letting us citizens know what was afoot. The Governor was inclined to sign the bill but he measured public response. He is a politician.
We should also give credit to our two state senators - Harriet Spanel and Georgia Gardner - for becoming aware of the devious nature of this bill. Both voted against it in the Senate and Harriet lobbied the Governor to not sign the bill during this last week. Their help was vital in defeating this bill.
Slowly - but slowly - people are discovering the power of the Internet. With it we can communicate with each other without the help of our newspaper, radio and TV reporters. They can't cooperate with politicians anymore to bury a story. We can use email and web sites to inform ourselves of what is happening. Without the Internet, HB1448 would be law right now. If other citizens want to do what I am doing, please email me. If there is interest, I would be glad to hold a seminar to answer questions on how nwcitizen is maintained. I will certainly make links here to other sites. We need more citizen sites. Email me at: email@example.com
Tuesday, May 18 - posted in the morning
Well, I went beyond my personal knowledge of an issue last evening and printed bad advice. SHB 2091 is a slam dunk and any letters from us will be the same as beating our heads against a brick wall. The Gov wants it. It passed the Senate by a huge majority last night. The Gov will probably sign it today. I printed the info on 2091 because all of my environmental friends are against the bill. All of them. I don't like it either. I've no idea where Harriet and Georgia are on this issue.
The primary purpose of NWCitizen.com is to inform about issues that are important but not covered by the mainstream news media. In most cases, that means not covered by the Bellingham Herald, our main source for news in Bellingham. SHB 2091 got coverage. HB 1448 was out of site until nwcitizen publicized it. When you click to check out what is new here, you should learn something you don't know - and that you have a good chance of becoming concerned about. I'll try and stick to that.
HB 1448 still needs our opposition. It is not too late to call or email the Gov. See May 15 below.
Monday, May 17
The legislature is in session - all citizens should be concerned. I have been trying this evening to learn what the legislature did today but the Washington State Legislature website is apparently not posting information during the special session. Nada. The legislature's web site informs us the legislature has departed for the year and will be back next January. Somehow, things like this amuse the heck out of me. Our government agencies just pretend to know what they are doing.
We do know this from TV news coverage. SHB 2091 was passed by the house today. It probably goes to the Senate tomorrow. This SHB 2091 will give the timber companies a free ride for 50 years in exchange for a token more of protection for streams in the mountains. It does little to protect the streams and does much to enrich the timber companies. And it does nothing to protect the salmon - the benefit that is advertised.
What to do? Call and email Senators Harriet Spanel and Georgia Gardner, of course. Urge our Senators to vote against 2091. And to work for its defeat. That is all we can do. And something we must do. Here is the contact info:
Sen. Harriet Spanel, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at: 360-786-7678
Sen. Georgia Gardner, email: email@example.com or phone at: 360-786-7682
Tomorrow is when Governor Locke will either sign or not sign HB 1448 - see below, May 15. It is not too late to email or phone call him asking him to not sign the bill.
In a few days, the legislative session will be over for the year. And we can breather easier. What is wrong here? Two things.
1.) Too many bills are introduced - hundreds - thousands. Our legislature makes it impossible for us citizens to follow what is happening with this flood of bills. Most - 90% die, but till then, it is a mess.
2.) Bills are crafted in secret meetings between some legislators and lobbyists for very large corporations and then introduced to our complete surprise. Kelli Linville did this with HB 1448. We have no warning they are coming. There is no time to communicate our concerns to our legislators before they disappear into the dust of the legislative session. The process becomes divisive. The fault - yes, blame - for this lies with our representatives. They have the power to change the process and allow us to participate in a meaningful manner. Secrete meetings are evidence of their desire to keep us from participating.
Saturday, May 15
On Tuesday Governor Gary Locke will either sign or not sign HB 1448. If he signs it, then our Bellingham Bay will face an almost certain ecological degradation. This bill will allow dumping toxic Mercury dredgings along the shore near Boulevard Park. On our city shoreline. That is the intent of this bill. That is the cheapest way to dispose of them when/if Whatcom Waterway is dredged. Georgia Pacific would save the cost of properly cleaning up their 30 plus years of polluting our Bay. This is wrong.
Gov. Locke needs to hear from us - now. Too late for letters. Phone, fax or email will work. Do it a second time. The Ports and GP have paid him repeated visits - they have been working for weeks on his staff, friends and advisors. So, you can tell him a second or third time that you still want to keep our shoreline free of toxic wastes dumping. Ask him to not sign HB 1448.
Email the Gov at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Call the Gov at: 360 753-6780, or fax him at: 360 753-4110
Tell him simply that you want the Bay cleaned up properly and that HB 1448 will short circuit this. Tell him you know the purpose of HB 1448 is simply to save cleanup costs at the expense of public health. Tell him that pushing toxic wastes from one place to another is not worthy of his signature. Tell him that if he signs that we will not forget. Tell him that this bill is anti-environmental. Our two State Senators, Harriet Spanel and Georgia Gardner are now urging the Governor to NOT sign this bill. They now understand the score.
You can learn more about HB1448 . This bill is aimed right at our Bellingham Bay. The biggest problem in the Bay is the tons of deadly mercury that GP has dumped. HB 1448 would allow "innovative" (read unproven) methods to be used in disposing of the mercury. Department of Ecology (DOE) wants to dump it on our shoreline and then "cap" it with a layer of dirt. The State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), our state agency that protects our shorelines, is stopping DOE from doing this. HB 1448 will simply allow DOE to override DNR.
If you are going to express your concern, then you need to do it now. Email is the most effective.
Saturday, May 8
Ya Gets What Ya Pay For
- When we invest in businesses we should expect businesses to invest in us. In this editorial Barry Bowen, David Warren of the Labor Council, and Michael Brennan of the Chamber of Commerce, put forth the commonsense proposal that when we spend our limited, taxpayer-funded business assistance dollars on a specific business, that business ought to make specific commitments to the community and its workers.
The only thing that defies common sense is that this has not already been done. Implementing this proposal should be a first step in creating a consensus regarding the type of economic development we want to encourage in Whatcom County. Bowen, Warren and Brennan urge business, community, and elected leaders to endorse and then implement this modest proposal.
Thursday, May 6
Look! A new post on NWCitizen! After two weeks of nada. This spare time effort gets set aside at times. Contrary to rumors, I have a life. ; ) Do hope to be more consistent from now on.
Eviction day for Sherry Jubilo is this coming Tuesday, May 11. Probably early morning. She has been notified by the Sheriff that she must be out by midnight, Monday.
The Governor still needs urging to not sign HB 1448 - which will allow the Dept of Ecology to dump tons of mercury on our beach next to Boulevard Park. Have no illusions - this bill will allow our very unenvironmental DOE to push pollution from one place to another. The bill even encourages DOE to use "innovative" methods of treating dredgings. If there is one place that innovative methods are not needed it is in disposing of toxic waste.
Write the Gov at: email@example.com
Call the Gov at: 360 753-6780, or fax the Gov: 360 753-4110
At the top of this page is a new link to EOW - the Every Other Weekly. Now you can read the Skinny online. I am looking for more local Whatcom links with news for citizens. Let me know.
Finally - have you noticed the tall tall new building under construction on the edge of Fairhaven? Well, Planning Department Director, Patricia Decker, has been asked to give a formal ruling on whether a mistake was made by her department in approving the height of this building. It may be 13 feet too high. Notice the blank south wall with no windows? Plans are for more buildings the same height. I will post a technical review of Bellingham's almost incomprehensible building height code soon.
Friday, April 23
Sherry Jubilo had her day in court - Bellingham style. Judge Moynihan showed his well known prejudgment. The city pushed for a speeded up summary judgment to evict Sherry from her Barrack's apartment (she is the last tenant) - with the city attorney ignoring several required legal procedures. OK by the judge. Moynihan barely let Sherry speak before he issued judgment against her and charged she had to pay city attorney expenses of $1,000. The city attorney promptly said they only had $500 in expenses. Moynihan quickly said: "It stays at $1,000. That was a lot of work."
Moynihan then instructed the city attorney how to go about getting Sherry evicted as fast as possible - as if the city needed instructions. Moynihan told him to contact the Sheriff - and maybe the city police also - and get them over there.
The illegal move by the city attorney that the judge allowed was the speeding of the hearing from a May date to this April 23 date. Last week, the city attorney left a message on Sherry's phone - at 3:15 pm in the afternoon - saying there would be a meeting with the judge - a different judge from Moynihan - the next morning at 8:30 am - if she wanted to attend. Sherry got home later that evening and had absolutely no idea why the meeting. The law requires a five day notification of such meetings. She couldn't make the meeting. At the meeting, the judge granted speeding up the hearing to a week later - today - at the city's request. Today Moynihan did not allow Sherry to present most of her testimony showing how the city was acting illegally because the city said her affidavits were not properly prepared. Sherry was acting as her own attorney.
Once, in 1992, when I was before judge Moynihan for a suit that I had brought against the Port of Bellingham, he came out into the hallway before the hearing to where I was sitting. No one else was around. He told me how much he admired all the work I was doing to bring the Port's activities to public notice. Then an hour later he ruled against me. I felt then and feel now that his speaking to me was way out of line. I felt assaulted. I felt like he was saying he would like to rule in my favor but for some reason wasn't going to. I didn't need his condescending kind remarks. I needed him to be a good judge. Something that he is not.
Friday, April 16
HB1448 passed the Senate today. Now it is on to Gov. Locke. If you desire a clean shoreline along Bellingham Bay then urge the Gov to veto this bill. Senators Georgia Gardner and Harriet Spanel voted against the bill.
Here is the essence of the bill:
"The department of ecology shall assume primary responsibility, on behalf of the state, for working cooperatively with local communities to seek expeditious and innovative cleanup solutions for state-owned aquatic lands. The department of ecology's decisions for remediation of state-owned aquatic lands shall be binding on all other state agencies."
All else in the bill is puff. What is wrong is the Department of Ecology does not protect the ecology of our state. It is the handmaiden of big industry in helping them to pollute and then escape from cleanup expenses - putting the burden on taxpayers. The DOE is a joke. They use the law to help the polluters. Our own Mayor Mark was busy shuffling around Olympia this week. His personal lobbyist, Dick Little, was in there lobbying for HB1448. Our city council was forbidden by the mayor from giving any direction to Mr. Little and so Little has been doing Mark's bidding for the past few months. At the expense of city taxpayers. Ask your city council representative about this. They will get awkward for a moment in trying to explain it to you. Yes, we spent our city money to help HB1448 pass. If you don't raise cane about this then don't pretend to be an environmentalist.
Shame on you, Kelli Linville. Shame.
Tuesday, April 13
HB 1448. State Senator Harriet Spanel does not support the transfer of decision making away from the Department of Natural Resources, which is the main part of this bill. This is good news for the future environmental quality of our Bellingham Bay shoreline. Harriet discussed this with me today. She believes the DNR should continue to control what dredged spoils are placed on DNR lands. She is working to prevent the Dept of Ecology from taking this control away from DNR - which HB1448 would do.
New to this issue? The cheap way to clean up the toxic bottom of Whatcom Waterway - Bellingham Bay near Georgia Pacific - is to dredge it and dump it on and near the shore between GP and Boulevard Park. And "cap" it with something. Like sand. Cheap. And DOE wants to do that. But DNR - our state agency responsible for caring for our tidelands - doesn't want toxic mercury laden spoils on the beach. So - lo, a back room deal to change the law. HB1448. This bill, if passed, will give DOE power over DNR. And we get the cheap "cleanup".
We need to write, call and/or email any legislators we know in Olympia urging them to oppose HB1448. If you want to do your own research, here is a page of links to the legislative documents. Notice our new City of Bellingham lobbyist, Dick Little, is lobbying FOR this bill. This at the direction of our own Mayor Mark. The city council has not been allowed by the mayor to give direction to Mr. Little's lobbying. Need I say more? If you are a Bellingham environmentalist, take it from there. Yes, GP and the Port of Bellingham are also lobbying for this bill - to save GP cleanup costs. If this bill passes, we will all be asking how it happened. Now is the time to act. We've only days left.
Sunday, April 11
Is Barbara Brenner's medical waste initiative a real solution? In this editorial, Barry Bowen argues that Barbara is selling fear rather than finding reasonable solutions. Facts and common sense portray a far less alarming situation. Barry Bowen says that we must protect workers and the community, but the elements are in place to do this without promoting hysterical fears. Moreover, a medical waste advisory committee will produce additional recommendations in June.
A significantly shorter form of this editorial appeared in the Bellingham Herald on April 9. Here's the official version.
All I can say at the moment about HB 1448 is that as many of us as possible need to write or phone Senators Harriet Spanel and Georgia Gardner and let them know that we oppose the passage of HB 1448. I've learned that GP, the Port of Bellingham and the secretive Washington Ports Association are lobbying hard for the passage of this bill. It is political hardball time. This bill is bad for our environment. It saves GP and the Port money. It does not speed up the cleaning up of Bellingham Bay. It allows an un-cleanup to take place. I hope to post more information Monday or Tuesday evening on this issue that is critical for Bellingham's waterfront. I urge you to read Al Hanner's article in the March issue of Whatcom Watch.
Wednesday, April 7
Still no word from State Senator Harriet Spanel. She is simply not answering any citizens who ask where she stands on HB1448. Harriet has a reputation as a defender of environmental values. We in Bellingham have come to depend on her to work to protect our environment. She is a liberal, Democrat, environmentalist, progressive. A warm person. Yet - here she is - silent on a very important environmental issue.
My sense of what is happening:
It appears that Harriet is going to vote for the passage of HB 1448 and is even helping it through her committees. I can tell you that if she were against it, it would never make it out of committee. Latest news I have is the bill is now successfully out of Harriet's Natural Resources Committee. I've talked to a lot of knowledgeable people. Harriet is being quiet as a way of getting past this awkward situation. She knows she if violating her environmental reputation. She knows there will be a political price to pay - but hopes that by saying nothing then the price will be less than if she was open about where she stands.
The Bellingham Herald is helping Harriet stay out of sight on this issue. They have printed nothing about HB 1448 and Harriet or Georgia Gardner. They printed a lot about Rep. Kelli Linville who introduced the bill - and Kelli has taken a lot of heat. The Herald has a reporter in Olympia - Bob Partlow. Ask the Herald editors why they are silent on this very news worthy issue.
So - I am left to speculate. You know, the whole reason for NW Citizen is to bring into public those issues that the mainstream news media don't report. And those issues that politicians try to hide from us. Look at the top of this page - "Let's do the Public's business in public." Not one person that I know of who has written or called Harriet's office has received a reply to questions about HB 1448. Not one.
If you are a supporter of Harriet's then write her - ask her why she won't publicly speak out on this issue. If you have heard from Harriet and can pass along her written stand on HB 1448, please send it to me and it will be published. What Harriet is doing is indefensible - and absolutely should not be tolerated by her supporters.
Finally, I must give credit to Senator Georgia Gardner. She responded to NWCitizen with a statement about HB 1448 - see Monday, April 5 below. She should still be subject to criticism for her coyness in not being more forthcoming. But, Georgia did respond. And we citizens now know somewhat where she stands. We may disagree with her, but we know where she stands. That is the honorable way.
Monday, April 5
HB 1448 is now in the State Senate going through a few hearings with a vote expected within a day, days or a week. We don't know. And our two State Senators - usually responsive to voter concerns - have been strangely quiet. Georgia wrote today saying she had only heard from four people and suggested that people weren't that concerned about it - "...isn't a ground swell of public opinion!" is how she put it.
Georgia Gardner wrote for NWCitizen:
"I don't usually study House bills until I can see they will pass through the process in the House and whether amendments will be made. Frankly we are so busy with the Senate bills, we don't have time. I am aware of HB 1448, of course, because it pertains to my district; however, I have not done an adequate job of studying the bill itself. My concern continues to be that we find a way to clean up the bay that doesn't involve lengthy expensive lawsuits. I am less interested in finger-pointing about the past than I am interested in finding positive solutions for the future. We need to get the bay cleaned up. How best can we do this? I hope that all the people who email me about what they don't like in HB1448 will include their solutions to the problem."
My perspective on her comment:
Georgia wrote this watered down press release to cover herself. This is all code that says she is for HB 1448.
1) Those responsible should bear the cost. It _is_ time for finger pointing when the mess needs cleaning up. This is the appropriate time for accountability and responsibility. GP dumped the toxins in the Bay and GP should pay to properly clean it out. Georgia is trying to help GP get out of paying their share of the cleanup. This bill would quickly allow the cheapest cleanup process - one that may give us even more toxic poisoning in the future.
2) What's the rush? This bill was brought out of nowhere in January. There has been no public discussion of it - note Georgia's own words say this. She will be called upon to vote on it this month yet she states on April 5 that she hardly knows anything about it. So - table the bill. Pass it next winter if it survives the light of public examination over the next few months. The Chlorine plant is still dumping Mercury toxins into our Bay as you read this.
No word from Harriet Spanel. I have contacted her office repeatedly. No word.
On another note - our new City of Bellingham lobbyist - Richard Little - is in Olympia pushing for passage of HB 1448. In June 1998, the city council funded the position of city lobbyist to Olympia at the urging of the mayor. When, a couple weeks ago, three council members dared to ask the mayor why Mr. Little was lobbying for passage of HB1448 when the council had not been consulted, the mayor intimidated the council members into silence by saying that Mr. Little was not under their control - or words to that effect.
Well - I looked up the memorandum from Mayor Mark that outlines how Mr. Little is to perform his duties and that the mayor used last summer to convince the council to pay for Mr. Little's services. The operative paragraph says the city lobbyist will do his duties "...after receiving input from the Mayor and City Council...". Pretty clear. Mr. Little is supposed to follow council instructions along with the Mayor's. Since he started working in Olympia he has not consulted with the council at all. We have the mayor - our administrative chief - performing legislative duties that our council is supposed to do.
Sunday, April 4, 1999
So just where are Harriet Spanel and Georgia Gardner on HB 1448? Our two State Senators are strangely quiet on their opinions of the so called 'Bellingham Bay Cleanup Bill'. Personally, I've read every Bellingham Herald - checked every article - and nary a word. Many of us have sent emails and other queries to our two Senators - and nada a reply. This bill will greatly affect all of us in Bellingham - and Whatcom County. It may spell $10s of millions of dollars one way or the other in clean up costs for our waterfront. It probably will affect whether our waterfront is cleaned up or simply covered up. Pun intended. It is proving a political storm for bill sponsor Representative Kelli Linville.
Harriet has always been a very responsive representative. This lack of communication with her constituents is out of character for her. She is ignoring the legitimate inquiries and pleas of her constituents.
In the absence of anything, I suspect Harriet and Georgia signed on to this bill before Kelli ever introduced it. Without Harriet's backing, this bill cannot make it past the Senate - she is very powerful in the Senate. Kelli knows that. Why introduce a controversial bill that Harriet would kill? But, we just don't know. In fairness, maybe Harriet is working to stop this bill. Whatever, she won't tell us. The stone walling of citizens is a far more serious offense than is being on the wrong side of an issue. There is no excuse for ignoring us. Harriet, you really do disappoint us.
Al Hanners has an excellent article on HB 1448 in the March 'Whatcom Watch' - still the current issue. He gives the historical background and tells what is wrong with this stupid bill.
Lastly - lets phone, email, fax or write them. Let them know they owe us their viewpoint. Simple question: ask where they stand on HB 1448 and why. Also tell them your preference for or against.
Sen. Harriet Spanel, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Georgia Gardner, email: email@example.com
Wednesday, March 31
It was nice to see the Herald headline this morning, "City ponders high-tech grid". Glad the Herald is on this issue. They ran a good story. We've got some new people running the Herald - and it showed this morning.
I was surprised to read what Fred Sexton had to say. He didn't seem to understand that present city plans call for the city to compete with the private sector. He didn't seem to understand the nature of the Port of Bellingham's Internet system, saying the city's plans are similar to what the Port has done. Wrong, Fred. Tis confusing to me why the Director of Economic Development would be praising the use of taxpayer money for competing with private enterprise. Especially when his own staff is working closely this past year encouraging the private providers to expand their services in this area - and with them all working hard to do just that. I know - I'm on the committee. Fred - is that you? Why haven't you shared this information with your own committee? More back room deals courtesy of Mayor Mark?
Tuesday, March 30
Well, the city changed what their web site says about wiring the city. I posted the link on Sunday. Today the city dramatically changed their site. The link still works - however, the text has been changed to downplay the project and costs. Spin control. There are now only 7 questions in the FAQ section; 8, 9 and 10 have been deleted. The summary now starts with "We are exploring the possibility of a fiber-optic .....". Before it had no cautionary statements. Now it has several. So, the whole tone of the city web site is changed to one of caution and study.
The city has also now followed my posting of the "Services Agreement" with the hired consultants; it is now also posted at the city site. Good. More information for citizens. Here is another document the city should post - the two page request the Mayor submitted to the City Council last June 22 asking for the $25,000 Feasibility Study. It has 4 references to the wired city generating "revenue" but not a single reference to the cost of building the wired city. Rather misleading. It is easy to see why the council passed this bill without realizing what they were doing. This is simply pie in the sky thinking. Fantasies. Read it. It glows with unreal promises. "The municipal network makes possible a unique Municipal One-Stop-Shop for all constituents requiring telephone, Internet, data, video or CATV services." So the city clearly plans to compete with private service providers. Lets see if the city posts it.
I find it fascinating that the city simply wipes out parts of their web site that become an embarrassment. Just gone. As if it had never existed. Rewrite history. Oh, we never planned that. This is what we plan. They label it as "Updated on March 30, 1999".
The old site - up until today - in question #5 listed "Utility revenue bonds" as the method of paying for the wired city grid. The new site has replaced those with "Industrial development revenue bonds". I'm no financing expert, but there must be something behind this switch. I do believe that only the Port of Bellingham can issue industrial development revenue bonds. Is there more going on behind the scenes here? Can any reader help me out here?
Question #6 has been reworded to take out previous reference to the city providing services in competition with the private sector. There are other changes to questions that should be of real concern to council members and those who put together government projects. There is some serious back peddling going on here.
Now - if the city writers could just learn to spell "feasibility" ....
Sunday, March 28
Mayor plans to spend over $20 million to wire city. Mayor Mark now has plans to ask the City Council in June to vote over $20 million in utility bonds (read new taxes) to fund the wiring of Bellingham for phone, TV cable and Internet services. Last July the Council unanimously voted $25,000 for the feasibility study of wiring the city. The report is due in April. The Mayor will then go to the council with his request.
No, you haven't missed any news stories on this - there haven't been any. Mayor Mark has been quietly working on this wiring scheme for many months. His Information Technology department is preparing to sell the idea to one and all. A major basis will be very unscientific polls showing that many Bellingham residents are not delighted with US West and TCI. Duh. Thus the justification for the city to install its own fiber system to every house and business in Bellingham. Every one. At a cost of over $20 million.
When asked why city government is going to compete with the private sector, the Director of Information Technology said that the reason is to provide "open access" to the wiring infrastructure. This means that other cable companies could compete with TCI over the wires. When asked how this would be administered, I was told those plans have not been worked out yet. Nor have operational costs been figured. Nor how many new government employees it will take to run this system.
You can read the documents supporting this story and you can go to the official city web site and read what Mayor Mark is planning. New taxes so we can compete with private businesses.
This citizen's perspective: This is an admission of regulatory failure by the city. The city regulates how our rights of way are used - the phone poles and the underground conduits. The city has contracts with TCI and other providers. The city can/could have required more "open access" from those who now own the wires. Instead the city rolled over. Further, local phone service is now being opened up to other providers - the 1996 Federal Telecommunications Act started this. Hello city council - anybody there? Everyone awake? In fairness, the city staff snuck this contract past the council last summer. It is further reason for the council to not trust city staff - from any department - to provide them with all the information they need for deciding how to vote on issues. Staff serves staff - not the council or the citizens.
Sunday, March 21
The Happy Valley section of NW Citizen has been revised. The outline of the neighborhood plan has been posted. This is the same as the packet that can be picked up at the planning department counter in City Hall.
I cannot let today's Bellingham Herald headline go by without comment. "G-P to close chlorine plant" is some of the best news Bellingham has gotten since it was founded 140 years ago. Yes, this was - and still is - a Bhopal waiting to happen. Some residents have been working for 30 years for this announcement. GP is showing its desire to be a good neighbor by this plant closure announcement. I encourage them to do it quickly. And I encourage them to seriously consider installing a chlorine free paper process.
Now - brace yourselves for a few days of dog and pony shows. GP top execs are visiting Bham this week. The helicopters are reserved - the press corps will be in town - the local mucky mucks will be wined and dined. We can expect to make news stories well beyond Bellywash. Let's keep a perspective on all this. GP still needs to clean up the mess the Chlorine plant has made over its 34 year life. GP is trying hard to get out of most of their responsibility. I urge civic leaders to remind GP executives this week of their responsibility.
Friday, March 19
It was a meeting of elected representatives and the citizens they represent. There was dialog - good dialog. Gene Knutson, chair of the Bellingham City Council, helped by putting no time limit on each person's comments. Every speaker spoke with respect and everyone spoke to the issues and sat down. Those who wanted were allowed to speak a second time to make further points. The representatives listened. Really listened. The citizens spoke from their hearts and their experience as Barracks' residents and/or as Happy Valley residents.
The result? Well the council told us at the beginning that because of the awkward nature of this meeting - little notice, not really a legal council meeting, no recording secretary - they told us that they would not make any decisions this evening. And in a legal sense, they did not. But is a real sense, they did come to a concessus as a group - and a concessus with the 50 some citizens there.
New council representative John Watts summed it up at the end.
A. No rush to a decision. Public process will prevail on how to handle the land not needed for the new fire station.
B. Break the project into three parts.
1. Fire station design decisions. Where on Barracks property to put it.
2. Use of the unneeded land at the Barracks location. Select a proposal for housing use.
3. Decide what to do with the property at the present fire station's location at 14th and Harris.
The council will hold a hearing at the April 5 meeting to listen to suggestions for possible projects. It will also see if it can make a decision that evening or else at the April 12 meeting on the fire station location on the Barracks property. This will free up the the rest of the property for proposals. This gives the Peoples Land Trust a fair chance to either renovate the present Barracks apartments or to build entirely new low cost housing without a burden on the taxpayers.
What could have been a very bad evening was turned around and became a wonderful evening for all. The council learned that the residents of the South side understand the issues and have reasonable requests. We residents saw our representatives open to our comments and not committed to a slam dunk.
Lastly - the 4:20 pm council meeting on Monday was canceled.
Thursday, March 18
We've posted a small tribute to Sherry Jubilo who has chosen to stay in her apartment at the Barracks. Today was the city of Bellingham's deadline for her to move out. By staying, she loses the $10,000 payoff offer by the city.
If you can make it, there are two city council meetings that need citizen attendance.
Friday, March 19, at 7 pm - in the council chamber of city hall. And you thought council meetings were scheduled well ahead of time - and at times that the public could attend. Well, not when the Mayor and Council want to slam dunk a controversial project past the citizens. Then you get meetings with bare legal standing - or less. They don't want citizens there. They want the deed done and in the past.
Monday, March 22 at 4:20 pm in city hall - probably the mayor's board room. Note this is about three hours before the regularly scheduled council meeting. Sneaky folks, those representatives. This one was just scheduled today. It is missing from the council agenda. What will happen? The council will approve the giving away of the Barracks property to the Housing Authority. Yes, they have counted the votes. It is a done deal.
Only strong opposition from many citizens can reverse this. We should demand that the council hold a hearing to consider what to do with the Barracks property. Sell it to the Peoples Land Trust or give it to the Housing Authority? We should demand a cost benefit study - what are the costs of each? Tax loses if made public property. Tax costs for public housing. Let the issues see the dialog of a public hearing. If the Housing Authority has money to build 11 low cost houses then that is great - they should build them somewhere else. Counting the renovations of the Barracks by the Peoples Land Trust, that will give us perhaps 20 low cost housing units.
If you cannot attend the council meetings, then call your city council representative. Ask that council business be done at regularly scheduled council meetings on Monday evenings. object to the slam dunk political process now being practiced. Ask that the decision on the surplus Barracks property be done in a proper and public manner - and not at these two irregular meetings. Please - make the call.
Tuesday, March 16
Well, the mayor is now rushing the process to bulldoze the Barracks. He is acting illegally in pursuit of a quick conclusion to something he wants behind him this election year. Don't expect the watchdog state and county agencies to look into his actions. The Bellingham Herald will finally come out with a story Wednesday morning confirming our Sunday story. However, you can read more than the Herald knows here on NW Citizen. We have it all - click here.
Over 2,600 signatures have been collected on a Petition to Georgia Pacific to end their chlorine operations at their Bellingham plant. ReSources, in a project led by Robin DuPre, has been conducting a letter writing campaign to local papers and circulating the petitions. This is an incredible number of signatures for only a very few weeks work. This is more than needed to put the issue to a vote if that had been their goal. Instead, as Robin has explained, they are trying to have a dialog with GP to help GP become a better neighbor here in Bellingham. The petition targets only the chlorine operations - the very deadly and dangerous chlorine.
There are now other proven and economically feasible methods of replacing the chlorine bleaching. Many mills similar to GP are using these methods now - and making their communities much safer places to live. And making a profit.
Rumors on the street are that GP is about to make some major announcement later this month. I have held up on this news until now when I am getting tidbits from many sources. GP is planning some major PR ads in local publications over the next few months. Workers are saying something is afoot. The Herald editors have been briefed. Will KGMI scoop the Herald? They could try.
Sunday, March 14
The Mayor now has a definite plan to bulldoze all the Barracks apartments. This violates his pretend good trust cooperation with the Peoples' Land Trust (PLT) to sell those apartments not demolished for the new fire station to the PLT. They planned to renovate them and continue to offer low cost apartments - at no taxpayer expense. No, the Mayor has not informed the PLT of his plans. I have learned about this through reliable sources, as usual. The proof will be the pudding. The bulldozed land will be transferred to the Housing Authority which will build expensive homes and manage them as low cost houses for low income qualified persons - at considerable expense to taxpayers.
Bottom line for most city residents: that fire station price just went up again. Keep in mind that it was located at the Barracks because it was supposedly cheapest. Top fire department officials have told me privately that the Barracks's location is not the best for the fire station. The response times for calls to the south Bellingham area are longer from there than from other possible sites. The south is the area of all future growth and the area for over half the emergency calls now. The city did no study of response times in preparation for the fire station relocation.
All this from a mayor who says he has improved relations with neighborhoods. Mayor Mark is not talking about the Happy Valley Neighborhood when he says this. Most all of the residents of the Barracks have now moved out -with the $10,000 payoffs the city decided to give them. They have found new homes. Several of them have continued to work to have the PLT buy the remaining apartments - an effort that shows their sincerity about wanting to preserve their former homes - and move back in. They won't be allowed into the tax supported housing - they aren't government qualified poor folks, and they don't want to be. They all have jobs.
So, our mayor finds yet more ways to waste taxpayer money. A fire station in the wrong location and a new permanent tax burden of supporting housing where no support was needed. Where is our city council on all this? Hello - anybody there?
Monday, March 8
We welcome Del Lowery to NW Citizen. Del has a weekly radio talk show on KUGS. His guests are always interesting and the subject matter is most always about our community. Del is now posting his monthly schedule of guests. Check it out for a subject that might be close to your concerns.
The February issue of Whatcom Watch is now posted. Again several excellent in depth articles on hot issues of Whatcom County. Watersheds - waste management - and more watershed.
Friday, Feb 26
The January issue of the Whatcom Watch
is posted. Another excellent issue. Focus is on water - salmon - watersheds - Cherry Point. Check it out. Serious writing backed up by serious research. The Watch is a local treasure. If you want to know solutions to local environmental challenges, then read the Watch. We keep past issues online as a service to researchers and to have a record online available to all. Our thanks to Ken Russell for posting each month's issue.
Saturday, Feb 13
The Bellingham Herald Editorial on Friday
was complimentary to the Barracks residents and their fight to save their homes. We have printed it with some comments. We also recommend you pick up a copy of the new Every Other Weekly
- Feb 11 issue - to read the skinny and what it has to say about the Barracks. The Skinny has it right - again.
Sunday, Feb 7
I have added another document showing why the City selected the Barracks location for the new South Side Fire Station. This one is a memo, dated May 14, 1998.
It refers to the Barracks as a "blight" - and includes this among the reasons to purchase this property. You can also go to our Timeline of the Secret Process
, which has links to the memo plus other documents. We invite city council representatives to read these documents.
Thursday, Feb 4
Bibi Herrera has a very good guest column in today's Bellingham Herald about the racist background of Senator Lott and Representative Barr, two leaders of the Republicans who are in a last ditch effort to remove Clinton as President. These two maintain very good relations with a southern group that is extremely racist. Bibi writes about the web site of the "Council of Conservative Citizens"
, or CCC, but she didn't include their web site address. Here it is. I have visited and explored this site - it is a real throwback to old times. Unfortunately, some leaders of our nation still approve of and support such racist beliefs. Check it out for yourself.
Tuesday, Feb 2
There is a report on the city sponsored meeting
about the South Side fire station vs Barracks low cost housing this evening.
Wednesday, Jan 27
This morning's Editorial in the Bellingham Herald calls the closing of the Newhalem Library a "travesty". It is a good editorial, pointing out how library services should not be measured by economic numbers and that the decision to close can still be reversed. It even urges citizens throughout the county to protest the closing and demand a reversal.
We urge you to call County Executive Pete Kremen and ask him to speak out on this issue. He is in a position of immense influence. He is about to appoint a new library board member. Information for calling Pete and how to contact him are on their own page.
So far, Pete has remained silent. He and I have discussed this closing at length. He is aware of the issues. If he remains silent - as he has so far - then we can only assume that he approves of this closing.
Here I get on my soapbox. To have any chance of reversing this closing, a lot of calls need to go to Pete. NW Citizen can only inform you of an issue. We as citizens need to make our public officials aware of our concerns before they will act. As a very active citizen for many years, I can tell you that the rule is a public official telling me that since I am the only one complaining about some issue that I shouldn't expect any action. The merits of the issue are often not enough to nudge a public official. The degree of public concern is always the main factor. That is why I started NW Citizen - to inform my fellow citizen of issues that need action - a phone call is action - and to hope that you and others will take action if you agree with issues raised in NW Citizen. If you are concerned then take the few minutes from your day to contact Pete.
Monday, Jan 25
The North Cascades Library in Newhalem closed today. For good. After almost 50 years of service to this high mountain community in eastern Whatcom County, the Whatcom County Library System, following a decision of its Board of Trustees, closed the library this afternoon.
Wednesday, Jan 20
7 pm Wed eve - see below for late addition to this morning post.
The Newhalem Library will close. At the end of February. Unless the County Executive and Council take action to reverse the decision made by the four Library Board Trustees yesterday. The Herald and KGMI had very factually inaccurate stories on the event, citing statements by Andy Waters, Library Director, as if they were fact. Andy's "facts" are highly inaccurate and I intend to show that here over the next few weeks.
What is tragic here is the disregard by public officials for any semblance of public process. Andy Waters got a hair up his butt about the Newhalem Library and decided to close it in December. Within a couple weeks he went from saying the cost of running the Library was $48,000 a year to $54,000 to $81,000 to $140,000. He just kept jacking up the cost until he had a high enough figure to scare the four very old and very slow of mind Trustees. They sat there looking like deer caught in headlights and then voted exactly as he asked them to. They didn't know how to form the motion and so just voted to close the library. An audience member then asked when it would close. After looking at each other in a confused manner, someone suggested the end of February as a good a time as any. They then so voted.
What is wrong? I'll spell it out. Newhalem is part of Whatcom County - just as are Point Roberts, Maple Falls, Lummi Island, Wickersham and many other remote communities. Our County spirit is in the many small towns and local communities we have. This community of Newhalem deserves us to consider carefully before shutting down their library which is the living heart of their community. This closing was first proposed in mid December - one month ago - by Andy Waters. This library has been a part of Newhalem for 50 years. This action is very unfair, unjust and way too fast. The Library Board's job is to run libraries - not close them.
What you can do: Call your county representative and tell them to use their power to extend the library operation for six months during which a study should be done to determine the real costs and benefits of keeping it open or closing it. If your council representative says they are powerless, call bull on them. They have the influence over the board because they control their budget. A few phone calls from council members to the Trustees and the Director will get this decision "reconsidered" at the February meeting. But - the council members have to hear from us.
Wednesday evening posting: Well, I met with some county officials today and it seems they have no control over the Library Board nor the Library's budget. The Budget for the county library system is by a special levy on property taxes - it goes to the board and the council and executive have no control over it. So - pressure on the council can only result in council members also expressing their concern to the library board. No more. Still worth calling them to make them aware of this stupid action.
Pete Kremen, County Executive, does control appointments to the Library Board. And there is an opening just now. By appointing someone of intelligence and independence, he can affect how the board responds in the future. The Library Board has sent their favorite candidate name to Pete. We strongly urge Pete Kremen to NOT appoint the Library System's candidate. Send them a message, Pete. Readers to call Pete's office and at 676-6717 - County 384-1403 - and leave a message asking him to appoint an independent board member.
Saturday, Jan 16
Why would a library director try to close one of his own libraries? Whatcom County Library Director, Andy Waters, is bent on quickly closing the Newhalem library. Newhalem is way up in the Cascades - up the Skagit River. It is on the North Cascades Highway - but very much in Whatcom County. Mr. Waters suddenly felt on December 13 that the library was too expensive and asked the Library Trustees to close it. No warning. Just close it.
Well, folks, call me old fashioned, but this is so stupid as to defy belief. Many of us in Fairhaven rose up in 1992 to save our library because the city - yes, the mayor and the library director - felt the library was too costly. It wasn't - and we produced numbers to show it was less costly per book, per patron, per square foot, per everything than the main library. It turned out the library had fudged the numbers. It took citizens a lot of time to learn the truth. We mustered community support. We saved our library. And it continues to this day to be loved and used by the South Side residents.
Newhalem needs our support. They are far from Bellingham and their voices are easily ignored - or not heard at all. We who live here in and near Bellingham need to pressure the Board of Trustees of the Whatcom County Library System to extend the operation of the Newhalem library through June - six months - to allow for reconsideration of this move. The county has run the Newhalem library for 50 years. Six months more is a reasonable request. The residents of Newhalem are asking for just six months so they can find a way to keep their library open. Hopefully in that time we can convince the County to continue to run it.
To support this six month extension, call the County Library System at 384-3150 on Tuesday morning. Toll free from anywhere in the county or Bellingham. They have no answering machine. They are closed Monday. The Trustees meet Tuesday morning at 9:30 am to decide the issue. So call Tuesday morning. Make a note. Don't forget. Politely tell them you support a six month extension so a way can be found to keep the library open permanently. The Trustees meet at 9:30 am Tuesday, January 19, at 5205 Northwest Road - by Smith Road. Can anyone attend?
Monday, Jan 11, 1999
Ken has posted the December Whatcom Watch - well worth your browsing for good articles. The Watch is amazing. Citizens who make zip from the Watch work every month to put it out for their fellow citizens. Cherry Point, insight on how developers operate, old growth articles - info we need as citizens - info the Herald never touches.
Yes, yes, I know this site is behind on the issues. Wish I was younger and had the energy I used to have. I'm getting help from some other very savvy citizens so this site can be more reliable for updates and information. For now, check out those excellent Watch articles.
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