2003 July thru December - Archives
To January - June 2003 archives
Sun, Dec 28, 2003
I see the Bham Herald has taken to printing US war dead on the back pages. Maybe some directive came down from Gannett headquarters telling all 80 some Gannettoids to print this awkward bad news in the back pages. Notice no mention often in the Herald of casualties - you know, wounded US soldiers - maimed and disfigured for life. Missing arms, legs, feet, eyes - and more. You, gentle reader, would have a very difficult time even learning how many are wounded - and how badly.
Would you believe thousands? The first number varies from 3 to 10, depending on what you count as a "wound". Evacuations of wounded, killed, psycho and injured is reported to be over 10k. Wounds can be severe burns, blown off arms, head wounds - things that leave a person maimed for life. Fact is, we are ahead of the numbers from Vietnam after this much time at war.
The Patriot Act II was signed into law a couple weeks ago. You didn't see any signing ceremony. Because act 2 was exposed on the Internet last January, the act was broken into pieces and they were buried in other legislation - which the Senate passed by a voice vote to avoid accountability. Democracy at work. Tis fascinating to watch the dismantling of civil liberties. It will continue. And the lack of backbone by any elected officials to speak out against it. This includes our fuzzy liberal Democrats. Funny how my liberal friends like to only vent against Republicans. Elected city, county and state representatives have a sacred duty to speak out against the suppression of our freedoms.
Is this a rant? What did you come here to read? Soothing words? Do you know how to boil a live frog? Put it in a pan of cold water and turn on low heat. Double boiler works best. As the water warms, the frog does not notice the difference. Until.... Same thing is at work taking away our civil rights, our liberties and our very workings of democracy.
Local rumor. Was there election fraud in Whatcom County? Were the ballots one fourth inch short and this led to incorrect computer tallies?
Thur, Dec 18
May I urge you, gentle reader and patriotic American, to check the War and Peace website links. Look for articles that may give you more facts and information on what our country is doing. The news is very different from what CNN and Fox tell us.
Sun, Dec 14
The capture of Saddam Hussein today is the end of one chapter and the beginning of another for Iraq and also for the United States.
If your reaction to reading those words is "dahhh" then pause a moment and consider what you think should or might change with these new chapters - one for the US and one for Iraq. In human affairs we have many opportunities to start anew - to adjust our goals - to learn from our past experience. Most important is how our leaders react. My concern is how George W spoke today.
George W did not congratulate coalition forces - he pointedly praised the US military repeatedly and only made one passing reference to coalition allies. So he is not thinking of working with others but using them for our own ends and glory.
He says that now Saddam will have to answer to justice for his atrocities of the past. Well, so should we, the United States, for our conservative political forces - the Reagan administration - supported Saddam, sold him weapons and winked at his atrocities for many years. We wanted him to attack Iran and we did not care what he did to his own people. We share in the guilt for Saddam's atrocities. We created this tyrant in the first place - a fact our news media do not deny but do ignore.
He said those Iraqis opposing us are a "direct threat to the American people". Tilt. We are in their country. Many who oppose our actions want a free and democratic Iraq. Again we have the chance to allow the Iraqis to take charge of their own country. We again can act to help a conquered country or to establish our own domination of Iraq for American mega corporations. But - those Iraqis who disagree with our policies are not thugs, terrorists or bandits. This same attitude by Bush is shown to we citizens who oppose his policies.
Wolf Blitzer is crowing and being a generally arrogant ass on CNN. He keeps guessing how different groups are humbled - the French or the residents of Tikrit. It is this attitude that the US can do no wrong that will get us into more trouble than we can handle.
We should all be relieved and grateful that Saddam is captured. But we should also be informed of the brutal dictator we are right now supporting in a country just north of Afghanistan who is committing atocities on his own people. After we no longer need him will we invade his country and capture him and display him to the world and crow about our ridding the world of evil tyrants? What sort of charade is this?
Wed, Dec 3
How much did George W know before 9/11 about the impending attack? Enough to have stopped the attack? The widow of a fellow killed in the attack has refused the $1 million from the government and is suing George W and his advisors. And she is very serious.
US corporate media have ignored this news. I am posting this here to help spread the news. This filing is not something we just read. But you can read the few reports about this by searching Google News with "mariani", the name of the woman filing the law suit. Read her 'Open Letter to the President'.
Tue, Dec 2
I urge you to visit the independent websites that report on events in Iraq. Independent being those not owned by US corporate media, such as CNN, Fox, MSNbc, etc. The independent War and Peace sites are listed on this site and provide daily first hand updates to what is happening. If you, as an American citizen, want the truth, then you have to compare different reports. It has always been this way - right back to the beginning of newspapers a couple hundred years ago.
Today, Juan Cole provides solid insight into the "huge" firefight of a couple days ago which supposedly killed over 50 "terrorists". Solid questions that are not answered by the media news reports. Questions we should all have.
In Vietnam, the Pentagon claimed for years to be almost ready to win the war. 30 years later we know they knew then that they were losing. We know they lied to us. We know they covered up incidents that they felt did not aid the war effort. In the end, 57,000+ US soldiers died, untold tens of thousands of Vietnamese died and we got chased out of the country. We are now involved in an absolutely no win situation in the Middle East. Obviously a no win situation.
Oh - our military said no US deaths in that firefight. Well, one of the "wounded" soldiers has died. How mutilated and wrecked for the rest of their lives are the other wounded? And we have killed an estimated 8,000 plus Iraqis so far. How many does it take? How many did we say Saddam murdered? At what rate for how many years? Our rate is 16,000 Iraqis a year and we are ahead of the rate of US casualties in the Vietnam war.
And do check the Guardian report on Richard Perle admitting the war was illegally started by the US. Many Bellingham lawyers marched in protest to the war for just this reason months ago. Or do a search on Google News for "Perle war illegal" and see what you find. If you become comfortable doing news searches on Google, you can get some great reports dealing with specific questions.
Mon, Nov 24
Here is a link to an excellent Flash style animation about soldiers dying in Iraq.
Sun, Nov 23
Lack of environmental enforcement of some local developers is plain to see in this photo essay at the Lake Whatcom website. The WA Dept of Ecology has enforcement folks tooling around in their spiffy pickups, but no enforcement for this site. Also Whatcom County departments have jurisdiction here.
The Lake Whatcom website is one of the Whatcom Links always available to you in the right hand column. If you know of a good local site, let me know and I'll post a link. It should actually provide good information useful to citizens who are active and vote. But it can have a left or right slant. The whole reason for this website is to provide info and links in a very easy to use format.
Sat, Nov 22
Suspicious activity. Today's Herald has a human interest story about Greg Grant who hired sniper John Muhammad for yard chores a year ago - just a couple weeks before his rampage of killing. This past week, Greg testified at the sentencing portion of Muhammad's trial in Virginia. Now, Greg is a very decent fellow who tries to do the right thing, so what follows is not meant to insult him. But the Herald again shows why it is such a poor news reporting paper. Check this story posted on NwCitizen a year ago about Greg Grant and a billboard on his property.
In a nutshell, Al Archer, an expert on evaluating people, reports Muhammad to the Bellingham police and they do nothing. Greg allows US Customs to use his property to put up a public road sign urging us normal citizens to report "suspicious activity" - a catch phrase for non-normal behavior of all sorts. The sign outrages many of us citizens. Ironically, Greg spends many hours with Muhammad and never senses any "suspicious" behavior.
The point? The problem is with the police, not with us citizens. All this frenzy and expense to track us normal citizens, have us spy on each other, tap our email, question us and destroy our civil liberties is basically ineffective for stopping terrorism but very effective in setting up an apparatus to control those of us who disagree with our government. You want to fly to visit your grandmother? You might not be allowed to if you are a local dissident. (Yes, I was singled out for special attention when flying back east for my mother's funeral. I was the only one and the agent told me the computer told them to stop me. I was later allowed to fly. I am for airport scanning.)
In Muhammad's case, the police had the information and blew it. We are learning much more about how the Feds muffed the Kennedy assassination investigation as new information comes to light in the last couple years. This year the Feds are muffing the investigation of how the 9/11 attacks were planned, who was involved and what the Feds themselves knew before the attacks. George W is withholding information from the commission charged with the investigation. We may be learning more vital information 40 and 50 years from now - if we are still a free society. And I mean information that exists now in Federal files but is being hidden or destroyed.
We citizens should insist on accountability from our police and law enforcement agencies. We should speak out and insist on hiring and retaining the best qualified persons to run our police and law agencies. Our city council should hold hearings on the qualifications of Bellingham Police Chief Randy Carroll. They should demand answers to why our police ignored evidence that was given to them by an expert. We should reopen the case of the Margot Poss shooting in Bellingham - done perhaps the very day when Muhammad and Malvo left Bellingham for good.
I can post information here. You, fellow citizen, can do your part. A lot of you privately thank me for my efforts here. Liberals and conservatives stop me briefly each day to tell me my site is checked and read. That's appreciated. I put considerable time and effort into this site - more than I can afford.
But - If this site is only a quick, fun read for you while surfing web sites then don't give me your personal praise. It is empty. You, fellow citizen, need to act also. Do your part. You need to talk with your elected officials - council members and others. Tell them you want accountability. Write them. Speak out at council meetings. Yes, go public with your concerns. Now, either there is no risk in going public so you have no excuse. Or, there is risk to your privacy, job security, career path, social life, peer approval, travel plans, financial security and more. Well, if you do not start to act now then it may be worse in the near future. And you may not even have this web site to read by then.
Thur, Nov 20
New weekly newspaper - Northwest Independent - is out and on racks throughout Bellingham and Whatcom County. Pick it up. Give it a chance. It is actually going to try and report local news - city hall and the court house and the issues that affect us all. It will strive for a balanced perspective but it may take a few issues to get itself settled with an editorial viewpoint that meets that standard.
With our support this paper may succeed where other papers trying to compete against the Gannett Empire's Bellingham Herald have failed. We all complain about the poor news coverage in the Herald. You visit this site to learn some of what the Herald does not report. Well, we all need to support this new paper. If it survives then it will nudge the Herald to do a better job of reporting and we all win. Competition does great things. The Herald needs a little competition. Pick up the Independent.
Tue, Nov 18
The Port has reversed itself and has hired a private fueling firm for the airport, according to today's Bham Herald. Remember a couple years ago, summer of 2001, the port terminated Alpha Aviation, saying the Port would run fueling and increase revenues? Well it was a bust. The Port lost money - big time. Alpha Aviation had been paying the Port a monthly fee. The Port got greedy, screwed over a local business, and cost us taxpayers more lost revenue.
The Herald report today reads: "The port has privatized fueling of airplanes at Bellingham International Airport, which explains most of the lost revenue. Still, the port will save money by privatizing the service, with the bottom line at the airport expected to improve by about $80,000 because of lost expenses." Huh?
The Herald is loath to say the port lost money, so says they will 'save money' by getting out of the fueling business. The port is a big advertiser in the Herald. The port does not have to cook the books to explain away mistakes - the Herald will do it for them. The Herald should inform us how much money the Port lost on fueling these past two years. What is the story of the Port's fueling adventure? Jobs lost, people forced to other towns to learn flying, reduced service hours and lost business to Bellingham in general - this is a story that impacts Bellingham. Will it ever be reported? Honestly reported?
Mon, Nov 17
An analysis of the election results by Paul de Armond is posted. Paul examines the returns and gives his perspective on what the numbers mean. His is not your conventional approach.
Paul runs the Public Good website and is active in local politics. His analysis of the WTO riots in Seattle was published by the Rand Coprporation, the semi-official research firm for the Department of Defense. The Washington Monthly praised his analysis as the best that was written.
I asked Paul for a brief description or bio of himself, and he provided the following:
Paul de Armond is a long-time analyst of local elections, as well as a political researcher specializing in conflict, society and political violence. Denounced as a radical by conservatives and a thorn in the side to liberals, he has abandoned ideology as a perversion of wisdom. As a research analyst, he delights in discovering he's wrong because that provides the opportunity to gain a more accurate view of the world. His views are his own and nearly as irritating to himself as to others.
Sat, Nov 15
A fun Dean for President event at the Cruise Terminal today at 2 pm. Bellingham's version of a flash mob. Here they sing 'Happy Birthday' to Dean for the camera, with the visual being sent to the Dean folks for possible inclusion on their website. Howard Dean is 55 today.
It was all fun, very brief, and is how big things get started. Of course they enjoyed the cake after, even without Dean.
The Northwest Independent News, a weekly newspaper based in Bellingham, will start publication next Thursday, Nov 20. It will strive to report local news. Amazing. It will be a tabloid and be distributed throughout Whatcom County. Yes, it will be free and depend on advertising for revenue. Wayne Ellis of the old Every Other Weekly and myself are among the new owners. Sharon Crozier, who owned and ran the Blaine Banner for years, is the publisher and managing editor.
When the Bellingham Weekly started six months ago, many of us hoped it would challenge the Herald on local news reporting. It has not done any local reporting, with most local news it does print having already appeared in the Herald or the Western Front. Most people I talk with are quite disappointed with the paper. Most of us pick it up only for the Skinny. Even that is not focused on local issues.
Lame excuse of the week is from Tim Johnson, editor of the Bellingham Weekly. His excuse for the sleazy Slate attack on Brett Bonner after the election is: "Brett supporters were solicited but did not participate." This is justification for kicking someone who is down? It speaks well of Brett's supporters that they did not want to participate. By the way, I was at Brett's headquarters that night while Tim was there and saw no evidence of his soliciting anyone for the slate.
Then we have the charming slander of myself from Terry Bornemann in his letter to the editor is this week's Weekly. Terry makes it easy for me to take the high road. Thanks Terry. And thanks Tim for spelling my name correctly. You really need to read Terry's letter to appreciate his ability to participate in the rough and tumble of local politics - even when he wins reelection by 60%. He has never sent a correction on facts posted here but I have been critical of him. And we do disagree in our opinions on public process. My real sin was supporting Sheri Ward against Terry in the primary. In the general election, NwCitizen endorsed Terry. Go figure.
Of course I'll be telling you more about the new Independent over the next few days. Want to place an ad in the first issue? Phone Wayne at 676 - 9411, the Independent number, or his cell phone at 739 - 2657. It is good to have Wayne back out working on newspaper ads.
Tue, Nov 11
We salute our veterans today. Their intentions were to serve our country and they did as they were told and went where they were sent. Our presidents do not always use them correctly, sometimes using them for adventures that have little or nothing to do with the defense of our country. We must not blame those in the service. They do their best. If we misuse them and abuse their courage for empty missions, then we voters need to take that responsibility. I am a vet. And very proud of it. And am working to make a change so our service men and women can be brought home from Iraq. They are doomed there.
If you read the news behind the news, then you probably know big changes are about to happen in Iraq. If you just watch CNN and FoxNews, then you haven't a clue. Certainly the Herald has not given you a clue. We are about to admit we are at war in Iraq. Of course the Bush supporters will soon deny we ever pretended the war was over. This whole thing is looking more like Vietnam. Anybody see a light at the end of the tunnel?
Want to read the news behind the news? Then routinely check the War and Peace websites listed in the right hand column. Especially the top five. News, not propaganda.
Sat, Nov 8
Brett Bonner sent out his concession statement last night, shortly after the auditor posted the final 7,000+ absentee ballots. It shows class by the fellow who waged a positive and forthright campaign for mayor of Bellingham. I strongly supported Brett, and feel quite right in that decision. He would have brought a fair play and open process attitude to our city hall. His final statement attests to his attitude.
Dennis Kucinich speaks in Bellingham today, Friday noon at WWU
Why would the voters elect the officials who strongly supported the levy while those candidates who opposed the levy were mostly defeated? The answers are not found only in the final numbers, but also from talking to many citizens - both those involved in politics and those who pay little attention to campaigns but do vote. Incumbents win unless two conditions are present. The voters have to really feel the incumbent is not doing a god job and they have to be convinced the challenger will do better.
Voters were convinced mayor Mark is doing a very bad job but Brett's lack of involvement in recent city issues - and his voting record - caused many swing voters to stick with Mark. Also Brett's on air radio comments haunted his campaign. Mark's letter writing committee focused on negative Brett letters rather than Mark's record. They knew voters did not like Mark. The Herald printed the letters while allowing Mark's record to go unchallenged. A majority of voters remained unconvinced that Brett would do better. The squeeze play worked.
On most other races, voters were not convinced the incumbents were doing that bad a job. Or approved of the incumbent's work.
Voters considered the levy by itself - separate from which politicians were endorsing it. The arguments against the levy made sense to the voters. With the Tim Eyeman initiatives limiting the ability of city and county government to raise taxes, they are trying fear based schemes to raise more money. The potential loss of EMS seemed a sure fire way to raise an extra few easy million a year.
It is thanks largely to former Bellingham Finance Director Lynn Carpenter that this tactic was revealed. She wrote several excellent commentaries - one of which was posted here. Voters do pay more attention to tax increases separate from candidates.
Vital programs - such as Emergency Medical Services - should be funded fully by our regular taxes. City and county councils should have the common sense and backbone to fund them. These very councils urged us to approve the levy, implying that while we voters should think the program important, they as council members might not think the program so important at budget time. How absurd.
Yes, we should feel good about the failure of the levy. The unneeded tax increase had nothing to do with EMS. It's purpose was to free up regular taxes for less important projects. If the levy had passed then we could have expected another fear based levy next year - using some other vital program as the bait.
Levys should be for extra programs - like Greenways. Programs that enhance our community but are not vital services.
So - do you think the councils will learn a lesson? Will they get the point?
Wed, Nov 5
It is really hard to replace an incumbent. Those not sure just vote for the person in office, preferring a sure thing to an unknown. I give my respect to those who took the challenge and ran against entrenched incumbents. Especially Brett Bonner who risked much. We needed change at the city and did not get any. Virtually every liberal I talked with during the past months was not pleased with the choices and wished better liberals were running. Well, now we will watch what happens when the mayor who wins is someone no one wants in office.
Jim Jorgensen is to be complimented for his win as Port Commissioner. We look for Jim to bring changes to the Port. But we are not leaving all the responsibility with him. This website is joining with several citizens in an effort to expand the Port Commission from three to five members. After the almost petrified process of the past few years at the Port, we need to expand the deliberative body. The Port is our key to a viable economy in Whatcom County. It has failed us for years.
On a personal note, it was 25 years ago that Whacom County voters passed the Home Rule Charter, our county constitution. It was a big change and the voters showed a willingness. I was involved in promoting that change and am quite proud of the results. Last night Pete Kremen unveiled a permanent addition to the court house rotunda wall - a photograph of the 21 freeholders of 1978 who crafted the charter. I was their public relations advisor and worked with them for the passage of the charter. It passed with 55% - a solid acceptance. We were not afraid of change back in those days and it paid off in spades.
Tue, Nov 4
Day or our decision. County Auditor Shirley Forslof will have the election results posted online as soon as or even before the printed copies are brought out her office door to those of us in the court house rotunda. First absentee tally may be posted by 8:15 pm.
Mon, Nov 3
Sunday's Herald front page story on the mayor's race again showed us how to skew reporting to favor your candidate. John Stark does this type of reporting on a regular basis. His story lists controversial contributors to Brett's campaign at the very top of page 1.
Not reported was how many of Asmundson contributors have jobs because of the city, are appointed to commissions by him, or have business contracts with the city. A huge number. This is news. The Herald could have listed and questioned these people. It did not.
At the top of page 1, the Herald managed to cram in facts that paint Brett as supported by the extreme right and accepting gross amounts of money from development interests. That most read top of page 1 Sunday Herald space was well used to hurt Bonner's chances with liberal and swing voters. Herald editors knew that would hurt Bonner - unless you want to think the editors are complete dunder heads with low intelligence.
At the very end of the article, at the bottom of page 4, was some info on Mark's contributors. I checked the PDC filings and the Herald did not show Mark's largest contributors. Just some normal ones. A former mayor's wife. Wow. Nor did the Herald list the developer interests contributing to Asmundson's campaign. Pat Jones, anyone?
They cough up or lose. I personally know of one closed door deal that has netted Mark one of his largest contributions - and another he tried that was turned down and they are supporting Brett. Both were one on one in his office with no one else present. Both were money in return for legislation to be presented to the council by Mark - legislation he has previously opposed or ignored. I learned of both on strict off the record conditions. But I can tell you they stink of corruption.
The Herald is printing negative facts about Brett as subtly as it can. Without fair news reporting we citizens will always be guessing at who to vote for and who best represents our personal values. Mark is a corrupt mayor. You would never learn that from the Herald.
See eight election commentaries by well qualified local political observers.
For what it is worth, here are my recommendations for the election.
The basic values that I apply are for elected officials to have honesty and provide open government that is accountable to the citizens. We can all bring our different views to the public process, but without honest public process we have factionalism and corrupt government. Beyond that, environmental protection is the most important cause I support.
Bellingham Mayor - Brett Bonner. Brett will be a fresh breeze and will try hard to provide open and honest government. Mark has not been honest, has taken vengeance on those he does not like, provides favors at public expense to his friends and is generally quite corrupt. I agree with what comes out of his mouth, but his actions do not follow his words. Bonner's election will encourage the council to set policy as it should and allow new liberal leadership to develop in Bellingham. Mark stifles liberal progress.
City Council - John Watts, John Wilson and Terry Bornemann. Watts trys so hard to be a good representative that it doesn't matter whether we agree or disagree. Wilson should replace Bjornson for At Large. Louise is a leaf in the wind on issues and does not contribute to any solutions any longer. Don Hansey is a good conservative but his interests on the council would be too narrow. Terry has learned during this campaign that he needs to be more open to public input and process.
Port of Bellingham - Jim Jorgensen. Jim will work with Scott Walker to make the Port work for our community again. Ginny has avoided being accountable to the citizens for her cozy deals with Port clients. Jim is highly qualified to contribute to our Port and economy.
County Council - McShane and Kaufman. McShane is more environmentally responsible than Chappell, although he is certainly not the hero his adoring fans make him to be. He has flaws and is erratic in his decisions. Kaufman holds promise of being one of the most intelligent and energetic council members we have ever had. He should replace Crawford who is a knee jerk representative of gravel and development interests.
Levy for EMS - NO. This levy is a tax increase to allow previous funds to be wasted on cultural projects. The EMS is not in any danger of under funding. But other pet projects are in danger. The fear tactics used for this campaign are despicable. Local governments and fire districts are playing a big shell game with our taxes. They just want more easy money.
Thur, Oct 30
Will be posting election recommendations today. Have not had time for some good posts the past week.
Reliable rumor has it that another weekly newspaper will start publishing in early November in Bellingham. Will be named "The Independent" and offer better coverage of local politics and events than the Weekly. For many of us wanting an alternative news to the Herald, the Weekly has been a huge disappointment after six months of publishing. It mainly serves as a vehicle for the Skinny, which while entertaining is not news.
I tried to print Tip Johnson's excellent analysis of Mark Asmundson's record as mayor - a devastating analysis - in the Herald as an ad but they turned it down, saying they were not accepting any "negative" political ads. My my - such standards. Guess that does not apply to the letters they accept and the slanted news stories. The letters slandering Brett Bonner are amazing. Guess negative only applies to Mark. It also means that an incumbent's record while in office is immune from analysis. Some free press.
Have you heard about the write in campaign for the many liberals and Democrats who will not vote for Mark but cannot bring themselves to vote for Brett? They are writing in "Dirty Dan Harris" on their ballots. They are distributing bumper stickers, buttons and other campaign materials. This was started by some card carrying Democrats in the city - some well up in the organization.
Wish I had more time to research for this posting. Lots the Herald is missing that is important news of local politics and business. Hopefully the Independent will fill the huge gap for news in this community. And sorry for those who check daily that I am unable to provide daily nuggets of confirmed news that is ignored by the Herald. That was always my goal, but the work of verifying is immense.
Wed, Oct 22
So the Public Disclosure Commission is investigating Foster without any complaint. Yet they pretend to not know of flagrant violations of the PDC laws being committed by Mark Asmundson as mayor - to wit, the use of the City of Bellingham website to promote the passage of the Levy for EMS. The PDC has been written about this and they are choosing to ignore it, citing a court ruling they say ties their hands. We will hear more about this issue after the election - when it is too late. It stinks. And no one in a position of responsibility will touch it.
The Herald continues to print stories only after I break them on this website - and has never extended the common courtesy of a credit to NwCitizen for breaking a story. A courtesy common between newspapers. Indeed, Herald reporters have frequently told me they check this website daily for story ideas. So do other news organizations - yet only KGMI (and Whatcom Watch - added 11/5/03) have given credit where credit is due. The question that you, gentle reader, should ask yourself is: would the Herald report some stories if they had not been reported here first?
One of the writers of the commentaries being posted has written me to say they had no idea so many people read this website. That writer has gotten a lot of feedback on their commentary. I am pleased that these people have written for NwCitizen. Their independent commentaries are very credible and are written from a deep involvement in our local politics.
Mon, Oct 20
Sun, Oct 19
On the levy, low cost rentals and the mayor's gag order.
Today's Herald devoted much of the first section of the paper to promoting the levy tax for EMS services, under the guise of reporting the issues. They printed two big graphs showing increases of responses and budget for EMS over the years.
Two graphs were missing that could have told the rest of the story. A graph for the same years showing total local taxes collected and a graph showing the percent of taxes that goes to EMS over the years. By ommission, the Herald made it look like EMS costs have risen while tax revenues have remained flat. A very false impression.
Mayor Mark will strike a blow against affordable housing at Monday's city council meeting. He will propose that loopholes be closed that allow accessory dwellings. These are the most wonderful way of providing low cost rentals, supervised student rentals, infilling of neighborhoods and low impact housing for people. Why any thinking liberal can support Mark is beyond me.
Can anyone get Mark or the four council members up for re-election to comment on my Oct 14 story that Mark has gagged the city council from talking to anyone on the Clean Water Alliance? The Herald has nothing on this - and that is probably because Mark asked them to not run it. Cozy relationship there. Or maybe the Herald will print it two weeks late - like they finally did today on the Bonner and the Unions story that NwCitizen posted on Oct 9.
Oh - the mayor is allowing the city attorneys to talk to the opposing lawyers - but not to the CWA folks the city is supposedly working with. Why? Because Mark is trying to torpedo the lawsuit.
Bottom line question - why the big silence on the gag order? It is real - and you have only read it on NwCitizen. Why? How can this town run day to day without acknowledging reality - like the mayor gagging the city council? Where is everyone? Is this town so neurotic that it cannot handle the facts and truth about itself? Gag orders are a serious business. Ask a city council person. Go to the city council on Monday and ask them. Ask the mayor. Is there a gag order on a lawsuit about our drinking water? Why?
I challenge any real environmental liberals on these issues. You say you support Mark for clean water and housing for low income folks. Mark is a sham when it comes to those issues. He works against both.
Fri, Oct 17
What closed door deal has Mark made with Foster? That is the question making the political rounds this afternoon. Foster Rose, who came in third in the primary election for mayor, today endorsed mayor Mark Asmundson for reelection. Foster's voters have been seen as swing voters who might go for Mark or challenger Brett Bonner. How many of them will follow Foster's suggestion now becomes a big question in this campaign.
Why is a deal suspected? Because after the primary, Foster went to Brett and said he would endorse Brett if he, Foster, was promised the position of deputy mayor should Brett be elected mayor. Brett told him no and that he was not making any promises to anyone before the election. This included his own closest campaign supporters. A couple weeks later, at Foster's request, a second meeting took place between Foster and his advisor and Brett and his advisors. Again Foster made his request. Again Brett told him no. No deals before the election.
Over the past couple weeks I've heard about Foster's request from several political observers who are not with either campaign. So the word was out on the street. There is no position of deputy mayor. The closest is Don Keenan's position of Administrative Assistant. We doubt Mark would trade Don for Foster.
Let us not forget that Brett made no deal - even with the prospect of gaining what might be the winning margin for the mayor's office.
Thur, Oct 16
Tip Johnson has written the best analysis of the mayor Mark's record that will appear anywhere. Tip, a hero to local environmentalists and liberals, takes an honest and courageous look at Mark Asmundson. Tip served two terms on the Bellingham City Council - several years of that with Mark. Tip knows him well and he knows city politics as well as any other person in town.
His analysis is long but does not waste words. The mayor's race is gut wrenching for liberals and Tip explores this complicated situation. He knows what he is writing about from first hand experience. This is the piece that this election deserves.
His commentary is most useful for liberals trying to decide how to vote for mayor. He has worked several weeks on it and the result is comprehensive. It is also a good read. My thanks to Tip for this commentary.
Wed, Oct 15
The Bellingham Police Guild will endorse Don Hansey today for city council. Their executive board voted 100% last night to endorse Hansey and not Bornemann. To most political observers this will be a surprise as Terry Bornemann is part of the local law enforcement organization as a parole officer with the county.
It turns out the police saw Terry pointing out undercover police to anti-war protestors last spring at an anti-war rally. Terry apparently knows who the undercover cops are because of his law enforcement job.
Of course, this raises the obvious question of why is the police chief sending undercover cops to these rallys? This is a waste of taxpayer money and nothing more than preparation for the harassment of citizens exercising their civil rights. Are they looking for the organizers? Why?
However, Terry's actions are appalling - if he did point out the disguised cops. And a reason for tossing him out of his job as a parole officer. If he knew who the undercover cops were because of his council position then it is also a reason for him to be voted out of office.
We may strongly disagree with the undercover police presence at a peaceful and legal rally, but for a law enforcement official to out fellow officers is appalling. The Police Guild believes Terry did this.
Tue, Oct 14
In the afternoon closed executive session, Mayor Mark and his city attorney Joan Hoisington put a gag order on all council members regarding the litigation against the county on Lake Whatcom. She has no basis in law to do this - but Mark is performing a squeeze play and needs silence until the election. To his liberal supporters he is pretending to be for cleaning up the lake, while he secretly sabotages all efforts to do so.
Last evening, in what was obviously a carefully planned process by the council, Terry Bornemann as council president changed the agenda and moved the EMS resolution to the first spot on the agenda. He then opened the meeting for public comment - to an almost empty council chamber. One person spoke for the levy. Then each council member made a lengthy speech for the levy - all of this focused to run repeatedly on Channel 10 this week. No public hearing was on the agenda. The resolution was way back in the agenda.
This liberal council again showed its disdain and contempt for public process and open government. My liberal friends have told me it is OK when it is their agenda. They just get upset when conservatives use dirty tricks for their agenda.
John Watts tried to belittle those against the levy by quoting Oscar Wilde, that they "...know the price of everything and the value of nothing." Well, Mr. Watts, the rejoinder to that in the play was "...a sentimentalist, my dear Darlington, is a man who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn't know the market price of any single thing."
State law forbids use of public office or agency facilities in campaigns. It forbids the use of public facilities to promote a ballot proposition. The city website is certainly public facilities and the home page promotes the ballot proposition for the levy. Very cut and dry. Well, don't expect the city to comply with the law willingly, and don't expect the PDC to enforce the law. The PDC has been wimping out of late to enforcing its own laws.
But we citizens can vote 'NO' on this levy - this extra tax - this attempted extortion by the mayor. The only dedicated, stable funding for emergency services is from our general fund - our normal taxes. We should not trust levies to fund vital services. Levies are for extras like Greenways. Would not the idea of funding fire protection by levy be absurd on its face? We pay taxes for vital services. We have supported the EMS for over 25 years from our regular taxes. If the mayor got out of the business of subsidizing builders and trying to buy and sell land then we would have the money for EMS. I'll be voting no.
Mon, Oct 13
Very quietly, more and more liberals are telling me they are voting for Brett Bonner for mayor. Some very prominent ones - but they are not going public. Why not? Fear of retaliation.
Why are they against Mark? Two reasons in general.
1. He is duplicitous as he runs city hall from behind closed doors, cutting deals and ensuring his own power. Liberals are realizing that hearings and council considerations of issues only happen after the deals are put together. Mark brings many things to the council in "emergency" form, such as the land deal on Division Street a few months ago that was a gift for a personal friend of Mark's. Remember?
2. He does not actually accomplish any liberal projects. Lake Whatcom is not protected and Mark has undermined several "environmental" projects that would have protected it. Neighborhoods have to defend themselves against Mark's closely controlled Planning Department. Birchwood, Whatcom Falls, Happy Valley, Lettered Streets - and even the Edgemore neighborhoods have all been blind sided by Mark's "liberal" planning department. We now learn the subsidies for all that downtown construction is coming out of our pockets and going into the pockets of Mark's friends, the owners of the Barkley Village.
Sharon Crozier has a second commentary on her views of Mark and Brett. Sharon is very active, very liberal and made Lake Whatcom protection a top campaign issue in her run for mayor. Sharon has a lot of courage. She does not come out for Brett, but her angst is very evident.
I'm liberal and am voting for Brett. To me it is shameful that liberals and Democrats will overlook serious corruption and duplicity in our mayor just because he is a Democrat. If we liberals think we are morally superior to right wingers then we fail miserably when we wink and support a crooked politician. Privately, every liberal and Democrat I've talked with has agreed that Mark is terrible. But they cannot bring themselves to say it in public. Shame on them. Their silence may enable Mark to be reelected.
Thur, Oct 9
The political junkies around town are abuzz about the trap Brett Bonner stepped into on Tuesday evening at the Labor Council. Dave Warren blind sided Brett without even allowing an introduction. They jammed questions at him, and baited him. It ended with Dave Warren, supposedly retired as prez of the group, telling Bonner to leave - get out.
Why? Because Mayor Mark is spending his money at out of town print shops that are union - and for that the unions will do anything for him. In labor speak, Mark has "come to jesus". No matter that Mark's print job does not benefit any workers in Bellingham. Brett got a lesson in local labor politics. He accepted their invitation in good faith.
Wed, Oct 8
A citizen askes a question of Mark Asmundson, on left, and Brett Bonner during the Mayoral debate at the Soapbox Forum today.
The two differed strongly on several issues. The differences between them are becoming more apparent and this should continue for the next two weeks.
Brett continues to develop his Lake Whatcom protection plans in a way that should appeal to the most strident environmentalists. He said - and passed out a white paper stating - that as mayor the inaction of the past several years will end. Brett will assert Bellingham's authority under state law to take the lead in protecting the lake - even if that means taking legal control of the entire watershed. Mark poo poohed that idea, saying the city cannot do that by law and listing his plans - more committees, more studies, more research and more discussions.
Mark's leadoff question to Brett was to challenge him to name what groups and organizations have endorsed him. Brett replied that very few have and noted that it is perceived that those who do not support Mark know they risk retaliation in their dealings with city hall. Brett noted the fire and police organizations endorsed Mark without interviewing himself. He also noted Mark is a registered Democrat and of course they also did not invite Brett to be interviewed.
Brett's leadoff question to Mark asked why Mark spent over $5,000 in Seattle for printing his brochures. Mark replied that he needed top quality and needed them done on time. He also said the Seattle print shop he used was Union and provided health benefits and other benefits to its employees. Brett responded that he kept his spending in Bellingham and Whatcom County and felt he got full value here.
Let's see how the Herald does with this in the morning. John Stark was there taking notes.
Levy for EMS
City Council - 5th Ward
Sun, Oct 5
Remember the 'Truth Squad'? We need one to follow Asmundson during the next three weeks - and to nudge the Herald to do minimal checking of facts before publishing. I'm referring to Friday's post below, where it was noted how Stark allowed Mark to phone in why he, Mark, had done the surprise raise in our taxes the day after his re-election in 1999. Mark said it was caused by the passage of initiative 695 on the day before - which limited taxes. Tilt.
The Herald on Thurs, Nov 4, 1999 reports that Asmundson told the council that he realized the previous Sunday - two days before the election - that a tax increase of 3% was needed. He did not cite 695 as a reason. Indeed, he said a "695 version" - a further scaled down budget - would be presented at a later date. The tax increase was needed because he needed extra funds for his budget expenditures.
Asmundson had the special session of the city council called on short notice for the day after the election - Wed, Nov 3. He presented the budget and talked the council into voting for it - even though they had no chance to study the budget. Lynn Carpenter, then city Finance Director urged council members to "comb through" the budget to see if a tax increase was really needed. Asmundson was visibly upset with her and said her figures were "goofball percentages". Bob Ryan switched his vote to give 5 votes needed for passage as a "courtesy" to Mark. Only Gene Knutson had the gumption to stick with his 'NO' vote.
In 1999, Mark repeatedly promised no tax increase before the election. He could not present the budget to the council in October, as required by law, because the "computer was down". He delayed until after the election. And revealed a tax increase. This year, 2003, he is promising top priority for Lake Whatcom - something he has moved very slowly on for eight years. And my environmental friends believe him.
Mark routinely fudges the truth - and worse - and gets away with it. With the council, with the Herald and with us citizens. We need to remember this election that this guy has said whatever he thought needed to be said for his agenda for eight years now. He is dishonest on a routine basis. We cannot trust him even day to day. As I talk to my liberal friends each day - and local Democratic Party operatives - they all admit that Mark is dishonest and they are embarrassed about him. Some say they will not vote for him - but they will not admit that in public. For the rest of us liberals and progressives who are not morally corrupt party followers, we should vote for Brett Bonner. Remove Mark, a very dishonest politician, from public trust.
Fri, Oct 3
If you're a liberal and just figure you'll vote for Mark for mayor, then read Tip Johnsn's analysis of the two candidates. Compared to John Stark's report in this morning's Herald, Tip gives a far superior and more objective analysis of last night's debate. Further, Tip did not allow one candidate to phone him after the debate to fix his bad rebuttals. Stark actually included Mark's phoned in comments in his report. (Mark did have time to complete his answer but chose to tell us how much he "loved" his job.) No telling how much more of Stark's report was influenced by Mark's phone call. How cozy.
Tip ends by writing "...I think it is time for a change." Tip served on the city council with Mark and knows him well. He writes about Mark abusing the public process with the Mason Building - the Pit fiasco. He comprehensively covers the debate. He, as commentator, adds information of value for the reader rather than allowing a candidate to add information to make up for muffed debate answers.
Thur, Oct 2
John's reporting implies the opponents of the levy think Medic One is too fancy. He fails to report that Nick used the description the Medic One administrators use to describe their own program. Either John does not know the history or he purposely intended to misinform the Herald readers. Either way, it is yet another example of how the Herald slants reporting to promote their own agendas.
Wed, Oct 1, 2003
I am posting commentary on the election races by several very qualified local political observers who have agreed to write up their views of selected debates, candidates and issues. The first one is by Sheri Ward who comments on the Hansey/Borneman race. Sheri came in third to these two in the primary. Her perspective is of value for the rest of us.
Tue, Sep 30
The forums are being broadcast live on KGMI radio, 790 AM. You can see the video cameras from Comcast Cable taping for later broadcast on Channel 26. I'll post the schedule when it is made available.
Problem is, Mayor Mark Asmundson has a terrible 8 year record on environmental protection of Lake Whatcom. Pratum overlooks that. Bonner is open to taking strong measures to protect our Lake. Asmundson discovered the importance of clean water sometime in July of this summer. If re-elected, we can expect him to forget the issue on November 5. With Bonner we at least have a chance.
If you are concerned about Lake Whatcom, then keep an open mind on Bonner.
Pratum is locked into the liberal elite who will not take a critical view of their own. Terry Borneman is a strong Democratic Party leader in Whatcom County but has a terrible record on the environment and protection of neighborhoods. But liberals like Pratum are blind and deaf when it comes to the environmental shortcomings of Democrats.
Look at their records. Question them on their records. Terry and Mark come up very short. Whether their opponents will do better or worse is another question. We should listen to them before deciding. They might do much better protecting our drinking water than the Democrats have. It certainly wouldn't take much for them to do better.
Bellingham Herald Election Forum
Tue, Wed and Thur, 7 pm till 10 pm
Sep 30, Oct 1 and 2
At Whatcom County Courthouse - Council chambers
KGMI has confirmed to me that they will broadcast live.
Lunch Time Soapbox Forums
Mark your calendar
Wed & Thur, Oct 8 & 9
Wed & Thur, Oct 15 & 16
Downtown Bellingham - debate format with all local candidates
Easy to print schedule is posted
Mon, Sep 29 - National
How many war prisoners is the USA holding? 6,000? A new website is trying to track all the foreigners the USA is holding in secret prisons or not telling us about. Amnesty International is involved. There are many credible charges we are violating many International laws on treatment of war prisoners.
Prisonerofwest.org asks and answers many questions. Some readers will be very skeptical of what this site says. But the scepticism will be based mainly on the belief that US soldiers would never do things like that. Well, that belief is being challenged today by many credible reports. I'm not in any position to suggest what is true and false. But we all need to realize that our corporate media can no longer be trusted. We need to check other news sources. This site is one of many that we should check. We need to check many sources.
Sat, Sep 27 - National
Why would a news organization hold on a story - when it seems inevitable it will come out? I can tell you a bit, because of the first reports I make here. A news media trying to hide something hopes the story will change for the better for their cause. They hope for a good break - and then they can go with it. They also hope the story will fade before they have to acknowledge it. They also use the time delay to figure a better way to spin their report. And you know what - it often works.
Why post it here? Because blogs and news sites all over the country are doing the same. Check Josh Marshall. We have censorship here by corporate media - CNN, FOXnews, Gannett, and more. Our posting helps spread the news. News censorship is not some obscure conspiracy theory. It is routine day to day. This is an example.
Conservative or liberal, I urge you to build a personal list of news websites you can check for stories. The Internet is becoming rich in good news sites. They allow you to be informed.
Fri, Sep 26
All week I'm hearing from political pros how Mark will still beat Brett for mayor. Mark is too smooth, they say. Mark knows what to say in every situation. Brett is doing a poor job of exposing Mark's record.
Consider this. Mark got 28% of the vote. We cannot find a local incumbent receiving less than 30% in a primary who was then elected in the general election. The biggest comback found was in 1991. Shirley Van Zanten got 31% in the primary (against 6 challengers) and 57% in the general to win. She beat Don Hansey. This year Don is running for city council against Terry Borneman.
We all agree this is the most contested mayor election with an incumbent in memory. All past mayors were re-elected every time they ran. Douglas, Hertz, Williams, Westford - that is as far back as we can go. Douglas had a tough race in 1991, getting 34% in the primary against four challengers, and 58% in the general to win. (thanks to BM for research)
Bottom line: The mayor's race is 50-50. It is probably Brett's to lose.
Thur, Sep 25 - National
National. Did you know that US soldiers who get wounded in Iraq and are hospitalized in military hospitals - for amputation of their foot or other treatment - are then charged for the food they receive in the hospital? They get the bill when they are discharged from the hospital. So much for our American desire to support our troops. Yep, do a google news search on that. There are several reports today. Who is to blame - who is to be held accountable - for this? We could point our finger in twenty directions. However, the Bush administration has blocked pay increases for our soldiers and their families while it has been sending them into more and more battles.
The Right cannot claim to be truly behind our men and women when they squander their three years in office without even bringing the pay scale for foot soldiers up to the national poverty level. Their families qualify and need food stamps while the solders are in Iraq being shot up. And then they get a bill for $8.10 a day from the Army for their stay in an Army hospital.
Tue, Sep 23
The Auditor counted all but the last 25 ballots today. In the only close race, Don Hansey has firmly out polled Sheri Ward. Given how the Herald viewed the big absentee count on Friday afternoon, we can expect them to tell us tomorrow morning that Mark Asmundson is continuing to close the gap with Brett Bonner. Mark's percentage gained 1/100 of one percent on Brett. Brett now only leads with 30.72% to Mark's 28.14%. The only number that matters is Mark's low support. Under 40% is rejection for an incumbent. The voters do not like how he has run the city.
Mon, Sep 22
The dates of the Lunch Time Soapbox Forums schedule has been adjusted. It will now start on Wednesday, October 8, instead of the 1st as originally posted. The forums from that first week have been moved to October 15 and 16, Wednesday and Thursday. Those debates scheduled for Oct 8 and 9 stay the same. All candidates are being notified.
Why the change? We posted the original schedule on Sep 1 so that all could plan ahead - candidates, citizens and other forums. But just a couple days ago, the Bellingham Herald posted their forum for the evenings around our first dates - which would have been a strain for candidates and audience. We thought we were being polite to the Herald as in previous years their forums have always been in the middle of the month. So, no problem. We will take the more exciting dates near the end of the campaign. Go figure.
Both forums are of value to voters and hopefully both will be reported in the Herald and the Weekly. The Herald forum will also be on KGMI radio. Forums force the candidates to face issues and questions from citizens. Campaign ads, radio interviews and especially editorial board interviews can give very false impressions of where candidates are on issues. Face to face with citizens brings out the truth. A forum that gives the chance for live rebuttal by the opponent decreases the bull factor.
The Lunch Time Forums are structured to bring all this out. Perhaps the Herald forum will also. However, in past years the Herald editor acting as moderator has filtered which questions will be asked whereas the Lunch Time forum allows citizens to ask directly. The Herald has not published their format as we have. I'll post it here when it is known.
Do not expect comprehensive reports to be posted here on either forum. I need to make a living and cannot afford the many hours that fair reporting would require. If you can attend then take the extra effort. We need to be as well informed as we can and not rely on just one or two media sources for our information. The hot races where we all need to keep an open mind are the city 5th Ward between Hansey and Borneman, and both county council races. Chappell and Kaufman are both running good campaigns and giving good reasons to consider them over McShane and Crawford.
Sat, Sep 20
The look of this home page has changed today. The flag is larger and now fits official flag specs. My thanks to Conrad Suckow for this. While it is larger, the image for downloading is 1/20 the former size, which benefits those on dialup access. The right side column is being organized to help you find other websites more quickly. Some are natural, such as the Bellingham Herald and others are of special interest, such as the Olympic Pipeline Explosion Report. Of course the selection represents my perspective of what is of value.
Today marks 8 years that NwCitizen has been online. It is still the only political blog in Whatcom County. I would love to post a link to another if there was one. This site has tried to act as a counter to the Herald. They pick and choose what news events fit their criteria for reporting - covering up or distorting reports on issues and events that do not advance their profits. We cannot get too mad at them as individuals - Gannett fires those who do not toe the line. It is rather up to us in the community to act and develop other news sources.
There are several local individuals who could contribute greatly to political dialog by editing a blog. I wish they would. Bellingham and Whatcom County citizens would benefit. And the Herald would improve. Democracy is a participatory process, not a spectator sport. We either participate or live with oppresive government and taxes. Besides that, I would sure welcome having some company online.
Fri, Sep 19
Don Hansey has out polled Sheri Ward and will face Terry Borneman for city council representative from the 5th Ward. Terry polled only 44% and probably faces a stiff race to retain his seat. Don is too conservative for the city in normal times. This year, Terry may be hurt by his close ties to mayor Mark. Terry would have trouble showing where he has not supported Mark on a vote by the city council. Don has a savvy political team working for him.
Mayor Mark has received only 28% of the vote from the city wide election, with Brett Bonner getting 31% even with three other challengers in the race. We need to pay attention to what issues Brett brings up and how Mark responds. For Mark to try out new issues would only further his reputation for duplicity.
This website is openly backing Brett and has been since he announced in May. Brett is an inclusive candidate who will deal fairly with all groups and all persons. He has a decent respect for the opinions of others, something Mark has long ago lost.
Jim Jorgensen has 48% of the vote in his quest for Port Commissioner. Ginny Benton could not get even half that with only 23%. This website fully endorses Jim.
Let the campaigns begin. I'll do my best to bring you info and perspective that you cannot get from the Herald and the Weekly. This is a spare time endeavor, so my posts will not be regularly scheduled.
Why am I posting this? Because our US media reports are again diverging sharply from foreign news media reports. This is what happened during the war last spring - and we learned the truth long after the war Our US media are now admitting they fudged.
A typical example is FOXnews this morning. The home page lists only one Iraq war story - this one, titled "Former Iraqi Defense Minister Surrenders". Buried in the story - 9/10s down the page - are two paragraphs that briefly report yesterday's ambush of three humvees and does not report any casualties from this. The headline promises a report of further progress, but the report is actually one of multiple attacks on Americans and our mistaken attack on the Italian official looking for stolen antiquities and the killing of his assistant by our soldiers.
Also, the term "wounded" is treated as a minimal event. The daily numbers are not reported and the severity of the "wounds" are not reported. If 8 US boys were severely burned in an attack yesterday, these guys could be in for years of painful surgery and a lifetime of disfigurement or pain. They deserve more respect than a dismissal of their sacrifice by our military and news media. The Bush administration is trying to keep news from the American people of the cost in human lives lost and destroyed. Ah, but GW is OK so long as he doesn't lie about his personal sex life. True patriots would insist on the truth about war casualties - all of them.
Thur, Sep 18 9:32 pm
Some comments on national issues.
Foreign Internet news sites are reporting 8 US soldiers killed in Iraq today. Nothing at the CNN, Fox and MSNBC websites. ( iraqwar , Al-Jazeera ) These reports are three hours old. What is happening? That would total 11 US boys killed today. During the hot war last spring the foreign sites were far more reliable than our US media, a fact we slowly learned in the months following the war. Casualties were one item. By the way, when a war report says a US soldier was injured, that might mean they lost a leg or arm or are blinded. Or worse. Injured means not dead. Injured can be very tragic for that person. Injured is not normally reported by US media. They should be.
President Bush left DC for the safety of Camp David in the Maryland hills as Hurricane Isabel approached. Guess what - what is left of the eye of Isabel is passing directly over Camp David tonight and passing 60 miles west of DC.
Schwarzenegger says he did not have sex with that woman. Correction, those women. But no Republicans are calling him on his lie and demanding that he withdraw from the California governor race. Right wing Republican leaders who distracted Clinton from our nation's business for 7 years are silent.
Bush lied to us about Saddam Hussein and 9/11. And weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Lies that hurt our country and killed our soldiers. Not the simple lie Clinton told to protect his private sex life. But Republicans are not calling for GW's impeachment.
If you like following the specifics of the war then add Colonel David Hackworth's website to your bookmarks. I am adding it to the list in the right hand column.
Wed, Sep 17
A few words are in order. It is humbling and most satisfying to see the voters choose for change in leadership at City Hall and the Port. For an incumbent to get less than 40% of the vote is a mandate for change. Ginny and Mark are getting less than 30%.
Ginny is gone. Her hopes for a better showing in the rest of the county are forlorn. If she cannot carry her district, she is out of there. Jim Jorgensen is an outstandingly qualified person for Port Commissioner. The other three candidates have already given their support to him. The powers that be behind Port politics have also quietly moved to back Jim. Ginny is out in the wind. Gone.
The mayor's race is different. Expect a lot of money to go into the general campaign. The conservatives - the BIA, the Republicans, the right side - have failed in every attempt to elect a mayor for over twenty years. This time they have a good candidate. And they have the support of many of us Independents, Libertarians and progressive Liberals. Foster may or may not support Brett, but those who voted for him will chose for themselves. Estimates from political operatives last night see 30% to 50% of Foster's votes going to Brett. Of course the vast majority of Russ Weston's supporters will vote for Brett. The feeling is even some of Sharon Crozier's votes will go to Brett. With that, we have a 50-50 race for mayor.
Even Terry Borneman is in trouble. If Sheri Ward wins the primary - and we may not know until Sep 26 - then Terry has a problem. Sheri is an activist who knows the issues and is supported by the very Liberals who supported Terry four years ago. Sheri can count on the conservative vote because she is a fiscal conservative. If Don Hansey wins the primary, then Terry can probably win. Don is way too far to the right for Bellingham. But - Terry has only 43% of the vote at this stage in the counting. For a Liberal incumbent from the Liberal 5th Ward of Bellingham, that says voters do not approve of his first four years. The rest of Bellingham is not as Liberal. With a good opponent, he will be turned out of office.
Tue, Sep 16
The Auditor will post election results in almost real time this evening. First post should be about 8:15, and because of the very few races the evening count may be done by 9:30.
The first live Internet election results from the Whatcom County Court House was the November 7, 1995 general election. It was on this NwCitizen website. Barry Bowen and I set up a computer in the rotunda with a dialup connection via nas.com and keyed in the results as we got the printouts from Shirley. We also took digital photos of the election night crowd and posted them up. We had fun and most folks thought our project a temporary fad. Tonight, one prominent mayoral candidate will entertain supporters at his home while they watch the results via Internet.
Mon, Sep 15
Can this website influence the elections? I doubt it. Most visitors are political experts - elected, bureaucrats, reporters or junkies - and have their own candidates to support. Few casual citizens even know of this site. Regardless, below are my thoughts on the primary election.
Mark Asmundson is a corrupt mayor and must go. He constantly surprises even politically savvy folks with his audacious duplicity. It has always worked for him. You have seen that oversized postcard showing the McRory's with Mark. Notice the text does not say they support him. The McRorys have told friends they are embarrassed about the use of the photo for Mark's campaign. Just a small example of Mark's MO. He runs the city with closed door deals. And, if you can remember back even a few months, they all cost us too much money.
I'm backing Brett Bonner. He is much more moderate than his old radio show suggested. He is intelligent, knows the issues and is experienced at management. He will be fair to all factions. My second choice is Russ Weston. Russ would be a very honest mayor and would not hurt our city. Foster Rose would be too much the advocate for downtown and as a council member was very arrogant. Both Brett and Russ will listen and work with all citizens. Sharon Crozier is too new to city issues. I hope she stays active in city politics. Regardless, I will strongly back whoever makes it through the primary against Mark.
Sheri Ward would make an outstanding city council member and I strongly support her. Terry Borneman has ignored citizen input for over three years and has discovered it only this summer. He is claiming and taking credit for things he actually opposed. The Herald reported that the building code height loophole was fixed with Terry on the council, implying his support. In truth, Sheri worked for two years to convince a majority on the council to close the loophole, with Terry voting against it. The Herald ommitted any mention of Sheri's role. Indeed, Sheri is running because of Terry's arrogant attitude towards citizens and his record of always voting for whatever mayor Mark puts before the council. Terry likes to close public hearings by calling for a council vote on the issue with no discussion of the input by citizens.
Sheri has worked for five years as a neighborhood activist and will bring a much needed independent attitude to the city council. We should not miss this opportunity to vote her in. Many conservatives think Sheri is liberal and liberals think she is conservative. In truth, her belief is for fairness to all. She wants city planning codes that don't allow planning staff to interpret them different ways for different applicants. Developers should support her as should any who support neighborhood values such as views and predictability of future developments.
Don Hansey really should not be running. His "20 years experience" is in the county and even that ended almost 20 years ago. He has not participated in any city issues. Don is very conservative and would be the shill for the Building Association.
Port Commissioner. As you probably know, I made my mark on local politics by exposing corruption at the Port about 10 years ago. I know the Port and how much it _could_ benefit our local economy. With three good Port Commissioners, we would be the most prosperous city in Washington State. We have not had that since the 50s. While commissioner Scott Walker and I disagree on much, he is our only intelligent and business oriented commissioner. He needs a second commissioner to make any improvements at the Port. Right now, Executive Director Jim Darling sets the agenda with Doug Smith and Ginny Benton his lap dogs.
I support Travis Holland but have to admit that Jim Jorgensen might be the best candidate. Travis knows Port issues, has served for years on government committees, is a working pilot at the airport and has much good business experience. Jim Jorgensen has a lifetime of marine experience in Blaine and has worked hard on Port projects up there. Jim brings maturity to the table.
Jack Grant is also very good and Ron Wilson would even be much better than Ginny. Jack is an attorney who works on trade and business ventures. The Port has squandered its free trade zones for years, with the commissioners not knowing how to develop them. Jack and Scott Walker would get those going. Ron Wilson is a fine guy with integrity and is a member of the Ferndale city council, but I think he is the least qualified of the four.
Ginny must go. Her personal legal and financial dealings are a mess. I have touched on them but have not fully exposed how bad they are. If she is dumped in the primary there is no reason to post them. More importantly, Ginny does not bring anything to the table at the Port. She just votes the way Jim Darling asks her to. She is deaf to any discussion of issues.
There you have it. Liberal and conservative values play a role only in which challenger you vote for. Most liberals who are active in city issues do not support Terry or Mark. Most conservatives tell me they are supporting Ginny while they hold their noses. Changes to these three offices will benefit all of us and will not offend the values of any of us. We are lucky to have such good challengers to chose from this year. Lets give them our votes.
Fri, Sep 5
So now the US is crawling to the UN asking for help in Iraq. And asking France and Germany to help. George W and his Neo-conservatives are facing the abyss - defeat and humiliation.
Gentle reader, you read it here last March and April - how we should turn to the UN at that time of the military victory and how our old friend France would yet be needed to save us from our own stupidity.
My hope is Howard Dean and General Clark will be the democratic candidates for President and Vice President next year at this time. We will elect them. Between now and then expect GW to stumble into a few more tragedies and use them to pound the lectern and yell how we need to keep him in office.
I'd like to see a split screen TV video of GW on one side and Mussolini on the other, each giving a speech. They have similar hand and jaw movements. Remember from your history how Italy invaded Ethiopia in the 1930s thinking it would be an easy victory over a backward nation? Italy was thrown out.
Thur, Sep 4
A new political pressure group is organizing to try and slow the growth of Whatcom County and Bellingham. Pro-Whatcom claims to be a diverse grass roots group of citizens but is actually a savvy and politically experienced group of old liberals. Most moved here from other places in the US. All now want to slam the gate closed. How they will attempt to achieve that goal will be interesting to watch.
Their web site does not list their names, but some whose names will be familiar to political veterans are Rick Dubrow, Robin Dexter, Dan Warner, Stephan Trinkhaus and Joe Yaver. There are a dozen other familiar names. Hopefully they will list them on the website before long.
They are urging citizens to attend the joint city-county council meeting next Thursday, Sep 11, 7 pm at the County Council chamber in the Court House. It is one of many joint meetings that are looking at where and how Bellingham should grow.
Wed, Sep 3 10:30 am
Phone outage in Whatcom County, Bellingham and much of Skagit County since 7:45 am this morning according to news reports. KGMI is on top of this and the Bellingham Herald is posting special reports on their web page.
For years, local telecommunications professionals have been asking QWest, AT&T and the other communications companies to install redundant lines to Whatcom County. Strange, but I have been at meetings where representatives of these and other companies have announced that redundant lines are now in. Yet today's outage appears to be the result of a single line cut.
So - what polite word can we use to describe what the phone companies have told us? And where is the hard followup by local news media to expose the full story behind these repeated outages? And how much does each of these cost local businesses? These outages could be ended with leadership from the mayor. He can command honest answers from the companies - we citizens cannot. We need this fixed. This year. The fix is simple and the companies know what to do.
Monday, Sep 1, 2003
AlJazeera's English language website has finally opened. This is the Arab news site that scooped the US news media on a weekly basis during the war last spring. The US Government supposedly blocked the website from getting through to readers in America. Now it seems well setup to provide us with another perspective on world news.
If you actually want to know what is happening in the Middle East and not just be fed fairy tales by Fox News, then there are several websites to check. Two of my favorites are the Russian site that was always a week ahead of CNN during the war and still gives excellent battle news, and one by a professor of Islamic studies at a major university, Juan Cole. I have these book marked and check them once a day when possible. And then there is the popular blog Talking Points Memo by Josh Marshall which is checked daily by most national reporters in the US.
The US is rapidly getting into serious trouble in the Middle East. After you watch a segment of Fox News, check these sites to learn how distorted Fox actually is. After a few weeks you will understand why we Americans stumble from one crisis to another, getting mad at the rest of the world and not understanding why things go so wrong for us good guys.
Sunday, Aug 31
According to today's Herald, editorial page editor Carolyn Nielson is on leave. Eric Thomas, who has been writing goofy editorials aimed at humor, is now going on vacation. So - during the two weeks leading up to the primary election on Sep 16, there will be no direction at all to the editorial page at the Herald. They will print stuff from other newspapers.
This from Gannett, a multi billion dollar corporation. Concern about local quality newspaper? No. Concern is only about return on investment. Their 8% from Bham. There is still no managing editor and now there is no editorial page editor. Can you imagine them going even a week without an Advertising Manager? Not a chance.
The mayoral election race demands full reporting and comment. Editorials can comment on shenanigans by candidates as well as give voting opinion. This blog is not a substitute for a daily newspaper. The Bellingham Weekly, while it has perhaps one good local article every other week, is not up to the task.
This city is in serious need of good local news coverage. Check today's Herald. It is very light on local news. Five photos of a kids rodeo and a sidebar that absentee ballots have been mailed by the Auditor. A nice piece about the Fairhaven High School reunion from 1935. A nice Labor Day weekend feature about workers at Intalco that pretends to be news. (The workers deserve our concern, but this story is a feature.) That is it. All else is off the news wires. News worthy events continue to happen in Bellingham - we just never learn of them. Like the $17 million Port windfall posted just below.
Friday, Aug 29
You would think the Port of Bellingham getting a windfall of $17 million would be news. But since posting that here - and scooping the paid news media in Bellingham - they have ignored this. The Port collects $5 million a year in taxes from all Whatcom County property owners, so this is equal to three years of taxes.
Why does the Bellingham Herald ignore this? Maybe because they are almost without editorial and news leadership. Evan Miller left suddenly in mid summer with less than 48 hours notice. Now Carolyn Nielson, editorial page editor, is missing - just gone. The Herald publisher and news department refuse to answer my email for an explanation. They have not printed anything about this. What is happening at the Herald? Something seems afoot. To lose your two top people in the middle of local election campaigns is absurd.
If anyone knows what is happening at the Herald, please let me know and I'll post it here. I will protect your identity. I have 20 years experience protecting those who provide me with public information and none have been outed.
Years ago the Port of Bellingham fired three employees trying to get rid of my inside sources. They missed and the two sources remained. One has now moved on to another organization. Jim Darling, Port executive director, is nothing if not ruthless.
The Port Commissioner campaign is getting hot. Ginny Benton, seeking her third term as commissioner, stated this evening at the Rome Grange that she will not respond the "mud slinging" being done against her. She will "not stoop" to dignify this sort of campaigning.
Four candidates are challenging Ginny. Word is the winner of the primary will get the full support of the others to oust Ginny. There is a strong move to replace her as commissioner. Indeed, some political junkies are betting that Ginny will lose out in the primary. Much of the motivation is her several conflict of interest escapades and personal financial troubles.
Ginny owes the voters answers to the muddy questions. Her actions are enough to elect someone else. For her to now say she will not respond and give explanations for her actions is all the more reason to throw her out of office. As an elected commissioner she is accountable to the voters. Of course, there may not be satisfactory explanations for her actions, and that may be why she wants to avoid the issues.
We need explanations to the following.
- A $200,000 lawsuit in 2001 against her for embezzling funds from apartments she was managing in Canada. It quietly went away. What is the story?
- Her hiring the official Port attorney Frank Chmelik to represent her in this suit. For five months he responded for her. As the Port's attorney, his firm gets paid by the Port.
- Her declaring personal bankruptcy two years ago. Did she run up $50,000 in credit card debt before declaring?
- Her taking a high paying job with a Port tenant, STS, just after they got a lease from the Port. She later lost the job and sued them.
Indeed, Ginny, as an elected official should provide us voters with a full disclosure of all her finances for the past 8 years she has been Port Commissioner. What else do we not know about. Mud slinging? Well, perhaps that is what you call it when you don't have a decent explanation.
By the way, the Port is flush with cash these days. While Port executive director Jim Darling is trying to screw all county taxpayers by over charging for use of a Port building for a temporary jail, the Port is swimming in money but won't tell us.
The Port has received $17 million dollars in an insurance settlement for polluted Port properties. By the time some fees are paid, the benefit will be reduced to about $15 million. Jim Darling and the Port staff claimed the Port didn't know it was polluting all these years and got the money in a settlement with their insurance company.
The Port has always been less than honest and forthright with citizens. The four new candidates all want to change the culture at the Port to make it more accountable to us taxpayers and voters. Ginny Benton is part of the problem at the Port. She thinks she can do anything and not tell us. No problem. Vote for any of the other four candidates.
Thursday, Aug 21
At the Lunch Time Soapbox Forum on Wednesday, Brett Bonner, running for Mayor of Bellingham, answers questions before an audience of over 150 citizens. Folks are lined up at the microphone to hit him with hard questions. At yesterday's forum, the mayor and four challengers faced the audience for over an hour of questions. The forum does not allow them to use notes, so the give and take is very entertaining as well as enlightening. We learn more about them as persons.
This website helped start these Soapbox forums two years ago and is one of the sponsors this year. While I am not shy about posting opinionated reports here, I also support fair and open campaigns for all who are willing to run for public office. We have sought to create a forum that is very fair to all candidates. The goal is to inform citizens of the positions of candidates.
Watch for the forums to repeat after the Primary election. The format will be different with both candidates for each office on the two soapboxes together and asking each other questions as well as fielding questions from the audience.
You can check the websites of candidates throughout the campaign season with the handy list on the right. The Email links make it convenient to contact them for invitations to speaking events. We need to help candidates reach out to more voters and not just leave it to the candidates to scramble. Challengers should be invited to neighborhood meetings. We can all help make our election process work better. There are also links to the Bellingham Herald's web pages of campaign coverage and the County Auditors pages. See the column on the right.
Thursday, Aug 14
Go pick up today's issue of the Bellingham Weekly and read the Skinny. It reports on the Bellingham Police giving jaywalking citations to downtown merchants who have dared to criticize the police. They are also ticketing the general public for being in the middle of the street when the walk light changes. They are ticketing bicyclists for parking their bikes against bollards for a minute while they chat or buy a sandwich. They are ticketing people who make the slightest mistake while riding a bike or walking across a street. They are lurking on their motorcycles like cheap sneaks. One cop, ticketing a person for having one foot off the curb while waiting for the light to change said "I love my job".
After reading the Skinny, I went out and got first hand reports myself. It is happening.
Why? The Skinny suggests greed. But there is a more sinister possibility. Police chief Randy Carroll is hitting back at those who have criticized his department for not properly dealing with downtown crime. He is going to drive people away from the businesses who have dared to speak out. It is abuse of police power.
Last spring, Randy told merchants to cough up donations to the police if they wanted protection. Extortion. The merchants did not.
Where is the mayor and city council? Nowhere.
Tacoma had an unqualified police chief and ignored the danger signs until too late. Our police chief also has a checkered and problematic personal history. He is not qualified by emotional temperament to be even an officer in our police force. He was chosen by the mayor without any search. Will Bellingham have to endure a tragedy before we wake up?
Read the Skinny. Think about what is happening. Speak out. Dare to.
Monday, Aug 11
If you are interested in giving the raspberry to George W when he visits Washington State next week, then check out www.stopbushseattle.com and make travel plans. W is coming here for some photo ops of pretending to be concerned with salmon and the environment. He is also raising campaign funds at a bash in Bellevue with Microsoft execs. I expect W will hear some free speech from some Washington citizens.
Friday, Aug 8
If you like a good read then check The Door to War and the Futurist Markets article. The author takes the concept of a Terror Futures Market and looks at how the world works. This is an exclusive NwCitizen feature.
Sunday, Aug 3
OK. They are completely insane. Amazing. I can call the supposed president of our county insane and my conservative friends only object to the f word. This is an adult site. If my "credibility" rests on that, then folks know nothing about judging credibility and this explains a lot that is wrong in this country. I'm changing it because it is meaningless. Any extreme adjective would suffice. Completely, absolutely, totally, incredibly, raving, stark, fully, and really. A terror futures market. The Door to War is preparing a comment on that.
Wednesday, July 30
Tuesday afternoon, the Bush administration back peddled from the Terrorist Futures Market idea under fire from Senators from both sides and ridicule from news media. You should know this plan was not a concept or abstract study. It was scheduled to start on Thursday with the registration of investors. It was considered a good project by the Bush administration. Just nuts. I notice today that FoxNews has avoided the topic. Conservative talking heads won't go near this one. Our old friend Admiral Poindexter is head of the Pentagon group that hatched this idea. They will now start work on their next idea, whatever that may be. Where is Bob Hope when we need him?
Tuesday, July 29
George W and the Pentagon are absolutely insane. They are proposing a future's market on terrorism, assassinations, atrocities and war. These guys figure a way to make money on most anything. So this is their vision of the future - war for profit. Make routine and predictable the process of government violence. Some will make a killing. Some will be killed. Like corn or wheat futures, some will make money. Indeed, insiders to violence will stand to make more money, thus encouraging people to make friends with .. with.. you finish that sentence.
The war on Iraq was bogus. The same folks who wanted to impeach Clinton for 8 words of lies about a blow job, now belittle 16 words of lies about starting a war, destroying a country and killing thousands, including hundreds of American service men and women. Anticipating future wars, they want to make it profitable for investors. Like all betting scenarios, this would naturally involve fraud and corruption. Buy a future on an assassination and then pay the hit team to make it happen.
These guys are warped. They have no clothes. Bush has no brains. He is a puppet for evil forces who have taken over our government. He was not elected. This futures market for terrorism is on the face evidence - proof - that these guys are nuts. Bonkers. If anyone cannot see the pure insanity of this then they also have been become so warped as to not have a grip on reality anymore.
NASA lost its grip on reality and figured that pieces of the Space Shuttle falling off during launch and hitting other parts were just routine. They considered and rejected having the craft photographed because they decided they would not be able to do anything about it if they did discover damage. They had no rescue plan, although now, after the tragedy, they realize they could have run another shuttle up to rescue the doomed crew. NASA learned nothing - nothing - from the 1986 Challenger disaster. Rocket scientists can also be dumb.
Just as NASA eventually was faced with the consequences of slowly going institutionally insane - ignoring reality - and suffered disaster, so will our USA face disaster unless we face reality and quit spoofing ourselves that our leaders must know what they are doing because they are our leaders. That is a circular argument. We citizens are in charge of our country and our destiny. We have to recognize insanity when we see it and put a stop to it. Else we will have no one to blame but ourselves. We cannot blame an idiot like Bush. He is just a pawn. Evil forces will always find pawns.
We are accountable for our own destiny. We either think and act or accept a terrible fate.
Thursday, July 17
The Bellingham Herald has good reporting in today's paper on the City Council's stumbling into a $300,000 plus gift to a local business. The business happens to be owned by one of the best friend's of the mayor. The mayor begs us to pay no attention to that as it has nothing to do with this. Right.
Tomorrow morning, Friday at 9 am, the council will meet in special session to sweeten the gift for Walton Distributing in hopes that they will accept the gift. Walton, according to the Herald, says it would do better with a new business location in Ferndale, but they will reconsider the city council offer.
This mess is one more reason why we need new city council representatives. The waste of our tax dollars is obvious. It goes on every month. The council says we will get it back in taxes. Well, yes, in about 10 years - maybe. So we should be delighted to give a tax free ride to a local business for 10 years? We can invest that money and get more benefit at 2% interest. Each of us can name businesses that would love such a deal. Where do we form the line?
Watch this one play out in the council races.
Monday, July 14
Just to finish the reporting on the carpenters, the union members approved the new contract, which retains their health benefits. The basic reason they went on strike was to avoid cuts in these health benefits.
Friday, July 4
A tentative agreement was reached last evening by the carpenter's and the contractors associations. Construction will resume on all the sites Monday morning and and the agreement will go to a vote of the union members. Maybe the Herald will report it now. Maybe. Don't want those workers to be kept abreast of how effective strikes can be.
Wed, July 2, 2003
The Associated General Contractors and the Carpenter's Union will meet tomorrow morning to try and settle the health benefits dispute and end the strike, which has stopped major construction projects all over Puget Sound. Several projects in Whatcom County are stopped.
The Herald has told you nada about this over the past week, so I am reporting it here. This has had a serious impact on our summer construction season. We all hope they can end the strike. The Carpenters are striking to prevent decreases in their health benefits, and are not seeking any increases in wages.
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