2007 - October thru November
Murder by Musing posted on Washington Outsiders website is right on target in asking the Herald editors just what their standards are. As we have learned time and again, the Herald editors do not answer questions they feel are awkward. Citizen Steve has asked the Herald - and there is silence.
The letter reads in its entirety:
The City Club hosted a panel of four newspaper experts on Wednesday who sought to explain how important newspapers are to a democratic society and how sad they are losing readers to websites - oh, and how the websites have no ethics. Of course the organizers did not think to include any website owners in their panel. Too bad because any one of several of us could given another perspective to many of the opinions these four put forth. Well, another day we will address some of the goofiness presented as wisdom by the panel. City Club members were the losers - getting only one side of an important issue.
Right - not exactly local politics or mahem in Iraq. Well, sports are also important to any culture - and the NFL is trying to pull a fast one. They fear only Congress. The NFL intends to expand the number of important games only available for extra fees from all of us. This is over the top greed. And pure monopolistic practice. If you feel concerned then let someone in Congress know. Hearings can be scheduled on short notice if citizens are concerned.
John Watt's HamsterTalk website has breaking news on the probable relocation to Bellingham of the NOAA home base. The possibility of us getting this facility on our waterfront has been a hope for several years. Now it seems it will happen. A tip of the hat to John for this news.
I once worked for NOAA. Back in the 1970s. Served on a survey vessel as a technician running depth sounders and helping plot charts. It was a great experience and I have had a love for NOAA ever since. I worked out of the East Coast base in Norfolk, Virginia. There is only one base on each coast and to have the West Coast base here in Bellingham has been a little dream of mine for decades. I think Bellingham is the perfect location from their perspective also, given my knowledge of their needs and desires. Today's news is reason for real hope that we will get the base.
Dan said he has five tasks to focus on during his first 100 days in office.
- Protect the Lake Whatcom Reservoir - work with the county
It was refreshing to listen and think about what he was actually saying. He intends to start doing things. He truly wants to improve things. Well, he had the audience behind him as we gave him two standing ovations - one after he was sworn in and one after his speech. Virtually everyone attending was a supporter, elected official or political activist. It was a very fine evening. And a wonderful end to a year long effort to choose a new mayor for our town.
We are all waiting to see what Dan Pike does. I've no insight beyond what I heard during the campaign. Blogs have referred to a 'plan' that is circulating but I've not seen it. He did have a group of divergent folks at city hall for a couple meetings to seek ideas for his first 100 days. Some changes can be made quickly but some may take six months. It all starts tomorrow morning.
News? The Whatcom Independent tells us that, yes, the city council did pass the Samish Neighborhood plan last Monday. We waited all week for the Herald to tell us - but nada. Is it still news if the Herald ignores it? Yes.
And so a paragraph here to compliment the Indy. I helped start the Indy four years ago this month and was its publisher till mid 2006. Since then I've not been involved in operations though I still own a piece of it. Each Thursday I enjoy picking it up to see what local issues it covers that the other papers have ignored. And the Indy most always comes through nicely. The Indy is truly independent with no hidden agenda and no big money behind it hoping to gain a benefit from its opinions or the slant it puts on reporting. It also covers only local issues - which means it adds real value to all it reports on. I'm proud of the role I played in helping it get started - but all credit for the current issues goes to Sheri, Deb, Peter, Frank, Jonathan, Viki, Tom and Heather. They are now starting the 5th year of publication of this truly local independent paper.
20,000 Iraq & Afgan veterans with brain injuries are not counted as wounded by the Pentagon. Charming. Not surprising. USA Today has the report in today's issue. Very nice to see investigative reporting into the routine lies that come forth from the GWB administration on a daily basis. This website has posted concerns about wounded and brain injured vets for years - Jan 1 in 2007, Oct 26 in 2006 and Jan 8 in 2004 and several in 2003. The life wrecking trauma of brain injuries is understandable to all of us. Here is where some consider the dead to be better off. To now learn the Pentagon has listed only 5,000 of the 25,000 injured is just another bit of news. Ho hum. Gee, the war is more expensive in lives than Bush wanted to admit. Well, maybe he didn't know. The guy who deserted his unit during Vietnam has little understanding of war. Brain injuries? If you can't see them then lets not count them.
12:35 pm - This from Lois Garlick
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
And thank you. Your support in my campaign for County Executive was tremendous. I had no comprehension of all that was involved when I signed my name to an application to run for office. All that I knew was that something was begging to be done and I was the only one there to do it.
The response from you all, old friends and new, was just overwhelming and heart warming. I can't begin to express my gratitude to every one of you. For those of you who voted for me, I'm sorry I didn't get to meet all of you. Thank you for your trust. To those who worked so diligently through all of the campaign, I say congratulations for being part of our vote tally of nearly 30% of returns.
There is much work left to be done monitoring what will take place in county government in the next four year term, as well as all that will be tried. The problem - facing not just our county but human inhabitants universall - haven't gone away. And they won't go away unless we stay involved in the process titled "government". So... see you all at the next county or city council meeting.
With love, and thank you again,
On top of liberty, we live in an area with clean air, clean water and a clean and beautiful environment. To any who would argue with that statement I would hazard a guess that they have not traveled enough. Whether in the USA or to foreign countries, travel reveals to us the incredible paradise we live in. We have much to be thankful for.
This advice is not aimed at Dan - who cares not a whit for my thoughts. It is an observation of how it is good that Dan is leaving the council and a peek into why many of us did not want him running the city. He is not one who brings people together but rather one who pushes his own ideas at others. Let's hope the other council members hold out against him through their last meeting. With Dan gone the dynamics of the county council will once again shift. There is no question Dan was a big influence on the council these past 8 years.
And then there is our Bellingham council. They continue to pout and bury their heads in the sand and prefer discussion to decision making. They won't meet with the county council because they feel snubbed. And they give us a public pout. Time for the three new council members to get involved and make progress this council has stalled on for 8 and 9 and 20 years. The city and county need to learn to work together. The news this week is just more evidence of why we elected Dan Pike to be our mayor. We need leadership and an agenda of action and solving long standing problems.
Still no Herald report on the city council meeting Monday eve. The excuse is it ran too late. But Wednesday's paper had nada as does this morn. The meeting did run late and made the big decisions after 11:30 pm - when most folks were gone. The Herald will, at its leisure and in due time, perhaps inform us of what happened late Monday eve. I am reliably told that they voted two high impact annexations that will give us yet more problems with traffic to new shopping centers while ignoring the lack of light industrial space. That is news and should be reported. Maybe Sunday's Herald. More history then than news.
We humans tend to feel loyal to our family, clan, tribe, etc. This is from ancient times when this was needed for survival. These loyalty feelings are hard wired into us but now do us harm when it comes to collective discussion or seeking the facts and the truth. Groups - from police to high school teams - like to have their personal bonds of group loyalty. No one speaks ill or squeals on anyone in the group to outsiders. Even when group members do wrong, the group protects them. The thin blue line is an example.
Port of Bellingham officials have described themselves as a 'wolf pack'. They may argue fiercely with each other but present a united front to the hostile public citizens. Once in the group you cannot escape or the others will turn on you. A turncoat is one who has supposedly joined a group and then does some public action that hurts the group.
Group loyalty also demands members attack some other group. Democrats must find fault with any Republican. But a liberal will not be criticized by other liberals so long as they do not expose any others to criticism or public question. Thus Dan McShane could act secretly for his self promoting county park on Lake Whatcom with only praise from enviro liberals while they would have screamed foul if a conservative official had acted in the same secret way.
Young Sam was no doubt brought up on these clan practices even though he possibly hardly recognizes all the ways his education and family instilled these concepts in him. How can I say that? Because that is how all of us are brought up in America. All I've done is reject this clan stuff as far as political writing is concerned.
Turncoat? Well, I never swore allegiance to Sam or the Herald. So I could not be a turncoat. I thought the Herald did a lousy job ahead of Monday night's city council meeting and I so wrote. Monday's Herald had not a word of the meeting. Sorry, Sam. I calls them as I sees them. Or do the best I can. And Sam, you should be more careful with the name calling. You blog discourages it.
By the way - just below is the post where I criticized the Herald. The post that was cause of the turncoat label. Note there is no mention of Sam. Maybe Sam is too sensitive.
A regular reader has sent this comment. For personal reasons, they prefer to remain anon. They are known to me. They are responding to the Nov 15 post.
Please stop perpetuating the falsehood that neighborhood plans have any significance and the problem is merely a matter of process.
That boat sailed three years ago when the city extracted all regulatory power from the neighborhood plans under the guise of centralizing and unifying the codes and standards for the city. The bottom line is, neighborhood plans have no teeth, no way to ensure their recommendations (sadly, that's all they are) will ever be followed, much less enforced. For twenty-three city groups to get all worked up over some "vision" for the look and feel of their neighborhood is simply sad. At best the neighborhood planning meetings are a social feel-good exercise, at worst a useless waste of everyone's precious time.
It's just another political maneuver designed to keep large groups of people busy and distracted while city planning is carried out by the select few who have any actual legal standing. - Jaded
And my response is that I agree . Former mayor Mark and his attorney friend, whom he made city planner for a few years, spent their time gutting all power from the neighborhood residents. Why? Again - because Happy Valley had beat city hall and implemented a neighborhood plan that the neighbors wanted - and not the one that city hall and Western Washington University wanted Happy Valley to have. Other neighborhood leaders were interested in how we had done it - and Mark was not going to have any of that citizens in control stuff.
City Council went along with this like sheep. Yes, and none of those who were skeptical spoke up in any sort of voice that could be heard. All seven were willing to go along in gutting the ability of neighborhoods to control their own plans.
Three issues dominated the city election campaign - with neighborhood planning being one of them. We wait and hope that newly elected mayor Dan Pike will take decisive action to correct this and many ills that our city planning process has been dealing with these past few years. We do not have planning just now - we have food fights. We have a dysfunctional planning process.
So - yes - the reader has a point and suggests I and all of us are still dealing with an illusion when it comes to planning.
By the way - this website will soon have a comment process. But it is being designed to have intelligent comment - not trash talk. I realized two years ago it was time but the key was a design that truly allowed community dialog.
Comments from the anon process - like the Herald and blogspot - are the same as allowing ski mask hooded toughs to walk down streets stabbing people and slashing car tires. It is not free speech - it is assault. Those who practice this type of comment are rarely at any job risk if they used their own names but rather are loose screws who pretend to be normal but show their true dark selves when allowed to be anon. I now know who some of those are that took delight in trashing some candidates and this writer during the campaign season. Generally young, male, white, educated, big hunks who want power over others.
Anon can be done right for those who truly have good reason to fear retaliation if they exercise their Constitutional right to free speech. And I think we have a solution for allowing government employees, retail and sales employees, and others in sensitive job positions to participate in our public dialog. I hope it is in place before January. We started the actual work on this back in February and hope the metamorphized NwCitizen will be to your liking.
Well, the blog activity sure did drop off after the election. Other blogs are quiet or short - and I also find a lack of energy to put the needed couple hours into a post. Plus some personal issues need attention they missed these past few weeks. We do have some unfinished business regarding the campaigns - and that will get posted before long. So, if there is little posted here for a few days, please know that things will pick up again.
I want to weigh in on the neighborhood planning wars. We went through a long but successful plan update for my Happy Valley neighborhood seven years ago. That was the last neighborhood plan that was updated. I've watched but not participated in the Fairhaven process which seems headed for a brick wall. We have all read of the Silver Beach melt down. And other neighborhoods are dealing with confusion.
The short answer to 'why' is the dysfunctional and illegal planning process that former mayor Mark and his Planning guru George Vega concocted. What is needed, imho, is an adjustment to some neighborhood boundaries and a method for allowing all stakeholders in a neighborhood to be involved. The Growth Management Act is very clear on this idea of inclusive involvement - but our Planning Department has given the neighborhoods a process that consciously excludes many people. Tweaking the process may fix it - but I doubt it.
But I digress - although I wish I had more time to pursue that neighborhood thread just now. More later. Gotta go.
One last thing. It seems that BIAW legal news - posted yesterday - is old news from Nov 1. I will try and learn what has happened to it.
The Auditor has counted 54,795 ballots and eliminated 655 more for various reasons from the total of 55,450 ballots returned and a total of 102,721 issued. We have a voter turnout of 54%. According to Auditor Shirley Forslof, we had a huge surge of ballots on Tuesday and Wednesday. Those numbers are still confusing and I am waiting and hoping to hear an explanaion from Shirley.
We expect the final tally of votes to be posted today - probably before 4:30.
The truth should come out - eventually. That is not an accepted practice and many people think many important facts and the truths that follow should be forgotten and never revealed. I'm not one of those. Facts that have no impact on others or the future can be forgotten. In college I majored in history because I believe the past can help us with the future. Plus the real past has more fascinating stories than fiction - or at least to me.
Today's Herald editorial is half right and half wrong in my view. Scott Ayers urges reconciliation after this election. And I agree that we should accept those elected and give them support and respect.
But there are stories from this campaign that also need airing and discussion. If we just close the book on all that has happened these past months then the same things will be able to happen again next election season. The same people, tactics and tricks will be with us again. Some of us who have followed elections for years were able to predict some of the nasty things this past campaign season. There are also some things wrong with how our Auditor runs elections and these need to be investigated and posted for all to know.
The whole idea of this website is to look at what processes go on behind the scenes or are not reported by the commercial news media. That is why I started it - because the Herald ignored the four million dollar KAP scandal by the Port of Bellingham in 1990. Eventually the Herald was forced to recognize this story - but after writing one closing story the Herald has never mentioned a word about this again - all in an agreement with the Port of Bellingham.
Yes, gentle reader, the Port blew off over $4,000,000.00 of our tax dollars on a losing shell game with a fast talking developer from out of state. I was tipped off about the process and looked into it as a citizen. Upon finding the facts, I brought them to the Herald - and the editors ignored it - until the Seattle PI put the story in headlines on page one. Then the Herald covered it - but only a little. Once the issue was resolved the Herald instantly pretended it had never happened. And so today we watch our Port - with some of the same staff still running things - make more losing deals. The Herald still gives the Port a free ride.
A democratic society needs to know the facts and who is doing what in the public realm in order to make good decisions in the future. Some facts are pleasant - and are usually reported by the commercial media. Some are nasty - but are also important for us to all know about. This website exists to cover that gap between what the Herald reports and what citizens need to know. I hope to continue that. This is why I have repeatedly praised Sam Taylor. His very good political reporting in the Herald has narrowed the gap.
Expect some stories about the campaigns on this website. They could not be told during the campaigning because they would have inappropriately influenced the elections. But they should be told so we have an understanding of what happened and why. And so we can prevent or reduce some of the dirty stuff two years from now when we have our next local elections.
Sam Crawford has been reelected. He increased his lead on Ken Mann to 4.4% from 1.2%. Sam has 8,565 votes to Ken's 7,840, a 725 vote lead. With perhaps less than perhaps 600 ballots in the 2nd Council District left to count, Sam looks like the winner.
Bob Kelly's margin is 54.7% and he is safely elected.
Louise Bjornson's margin is 54.9% and she is safely reelected.
On Tuesday, (Monday is a holiday) the Auditor will run the last of the ballots, about 3,000, and we will then have the unofficial final tally. We can expect over a thousand ballots to be disqualified - maybe two thousand - and so we will only see a bit over 1,000 more ballots actually added into the vote tally.
Auditor Shirley Forslof issued a statement yesterday to the news media explaining why the vote count is slow. Some of her numbers did not match up with her previous reports and I have asked her for explanations. Hopefully she will respond next week. I made a pdf file of her letter and you can download and read. She issued it at 4:55 pm yesterday, Friday.
These numbers mean that only half the votes have been counted. We now have 55,073 ballots returned out of 102,721 issued for a 54% return. And we have 28,912 ballots counted with 26,161 still to count.
Of all government agencies, we should expect accurate numbers from our Auditor. I've asked Shirley Forslof about these confused numbers during previous elections and each time I get slightly different answers. Ballots in boxes from the US Postal Service are not simply counted. Some sort of processing takes place. But Shirley then tells me that, no, that returned number is the number received from the Post Office each day. You go figure. Someone with more clout than myself needs to ask some serious questions.
Some other questions are:
Expect one to three thousand more ballots to be returned today. Expect the Auditor to be counting up to 4,000 or more ballots a day - and we can only hope accurately. And we can only hope all 20,000 plus remaining ballots will be counted before Sunday. By the way - virtually all ballots mailed during the day Tuesday were delivered Wednesday. Today only a couple hundred will actually be delivered to the Auditor.
11:15 am post and later posts are below the 7:30 am post
A watershed night. Bellingham is on a new track. Dan Pike won by articulating how he would run the office of mayor - not by how Bellingham would be changed under his guidance. Pike told us he would be fair, that all of would be allowed to participate, that city hall would be open and friendly, and that he would administer our city departments in a professional manner. We want that.
We citizens of Bellingham have our visions of our future. We don't need a single leader who knows better than we do. We need an administrator who will help us all to work together to shape our vision of our own future. We live in paradise and we live in a democracy and we all want to have good local government so we can play fair with each other and with our competing ideas. It is as simple as that. Bellingham is loaded with visionaries. We need someone who can help us all to realize our future. And now we have that person in Dan Pike.
The courthouse rotunda was packed last night from shortly after 8 pm till almost 10 pm. The best I have seen in at least 10 years. With so many open seats and so many new political players it seemed many wanted to be there and meet others. I have not yet looked at Scott Ayers blog, but he was busy all evening talking to people and then walking over to the high counter at the information booth and typing in post after post on his laptop computer. I'm hopeful he captured some of the great ambience of the evening. It was local politics at its best.
Damon Gray has posted a gracious congratulations to Stan Snapp. These two guys ran very good clean campaigns and respected each other.
Meanwhile, 8,000 more votes arrived after the 2,000 received in the mail this morning, giving a total of 10,250 ballots received today, and giving us 46,827 ballots cast in this election so far. So - there was a surge. And there should be less than a thousand more ballots arriving. This gives 18,000 ballots that still have to be processed and counted. I suspect the Auditor staff came to work late today after the late night Tuesday. But this means we will see the total votes counted increase by 4 to 6 thousand each day this week through Saturday. Good grief. There has to be a better way to get a prompt vote count.
If we get a surge of ballots returned in the mail today - say 8,000 to 12,000 - , then we need to realize the Auditor's office can only process 2,000 to 4,000 per day. Wednesday will also have at least 4,000 ballots and so we will see dramatic new vote totals posted each day this week through Saturday. Yep, close races could go very undecided till Saturday.
If you read this website then you are probably a political junkie. And you probably know we have slowly lost, over the past 10 years, one of the most fun social events of the year - the gathering of political folks in the Rotunda of the Courthouse when the returns come out. I know some political campaign groups are planning to start parties at 6 & 7 pm tonight and then caravan to the courthouse about 8 pm. We will have more new elected officials tonight than we have had in years. Lets gather and give the winners a good cheer and applause.
In 1978 we passed our Home Rule Charter and created our current form of council and executive county government - and eliminated the old three commissioner junta. For the returns that night, I snuck a bottle of champagne into the old courthouse lobby and with the first results - showing a solid 55% approval - we pulled it out and popped the cork and others produced plastic cups and we spread the cheer around. The Herald even got the photo. We all had fun.
In those days the Auditor would come into the lobby and chalk the numbers onto a board. I'm waiting for an enterprising local video shop to setup a large - large - screen in the rotunda and post the numbers live. As it is, tonight you will get the numbers a minute sooner on the Auditor's Election website page than we will waiting in the Rotunda for Shirley to come out with her bundle of printouts.
Final evolution of right column candidate listing, compiled between April and Nov 2007.
If you are looking at endorsements, note the Whatcom County Democrats endorsed both Dan Pike and Dan McShane. Reading McShane's website leads one to think only he got the nod.
Seth Fleetwood's endorsement of Pike is also of great value. Seth has worked with McShane for years on the county council and Seth also has the best environmental record of any of the council members. Seth is very popular as a local elected official and his endorsement of Pike really tells the local progressives and environmentalists that Pike will be good for these causes.
More ballot return numbers came in this afternoon. Still no surge from ballots mailed Saturday. As of this afternoon, 28,678 ballots are returned for a 28% total so far. Normally on Monday we are 2/3rds there, so this suggest another 14,000 for a total turnout of 42%. I don't know if Whatcom County has ever had that low a turnout in a General Election. In 2001 we had 45% and that is the lowest I can find.
The city ballot returns are running about 2% above county returns. With Bellingham voters compromising only 37% of all voters in our county, our rural and small town neighbors could control the County Council elections - if they wanted to. Final tallies are needed before drawing conclusions. Another surprise - up to Saturday, the highest percentage ballot return of the three county council districts is - would you believe it - the 3rd District where Barbara Brenner is running unopposed. 21.8% compared to 21.7% in the 1st with the hotly contested campaign between Hatch and Kelly. The 2nd is a lowly 20.2%.
One explanation may be that 3rd District folks have few hard decisions and steady voters just filled out and returned their ballots. Based on that, the Mann-Crawford results might be very close as folks are considering which to vote for.
These numbers are later than what Sam Taylor had available for his article in today's Herald. But still, anyone who plays with all the numbers will find they simply do not add up. I have discrepencies of several hundred ballots from the Auditor's office. I have tried to clear this up after previous elections by discussing with Shirley but each year the numbers released are confusing again. Probably needs to be sorted out after Tuesday.
Satuday ballot returns show 2,502 ballots received today, which should make the total returned to 24,372 out of 103,058 issued. No surge yet. This gives a 23.6% return through today. In the Primary it was at 20%, so we are finally getting ahead. We are on track for a 33% turnout, but we do fully expect a surge. We will have a surge of votes in these final days - won't we? I'm lowering my guess to 42%, down from 44% yesterday. Shirley Forslof estimated 55% on Thursday. In 2003 - the year most similar to this year - we had 48%. Will update this guessing and trivia daily. As Shirley wrote, we hope the turnout is much higher and exceeds 55%.
Note: Above numbers are higher than those posted on Auditor page. I phoned on Saturday afternoon for latest, but still these are not exact.
Dan Pike has spoken to the issues and to the details and depths of the issues on a continuous basis during this campaign. I've heard him and so have thousands of Bellingham voters. You can visit his website and learn more. You can link to the podcasts and watch and hear more. He has run a clean and honorable campaign. This election is becoming a test of whether a clean campaigner and very well qualified candidate can win. Sam Taylor, the Herald reporter, has tried hard to fairly cover the candidates but the gaming and distractions required him to cover those problems and took away from his chance to report on issues. Pike continues to meet Bellingham residents and to discuss issues with them.
On a county council contest:
A late hit piece - a smear - arrived on Thursday as a large postcard at homes in the 1st County Council District. Five days before the election, it hits Chris Hatch for having so many farmers endorsing and contributing to his campaign. No - wait - I got that wrong. The card ignored that so many small property owners and farmers in the rural county are supporting Hatch. It hit him with "developers". It is another sad example of late dirty politics.
Chris Hatch has campaigned hard, attended the forums, been forthright and will represent all of us living in the 1st District if elected. Chris will advocate for fair council processes that benefit all of us in the County. Chris has not done any negative campaigning. I'm liberal and want salmon restoration and Chris will do a very good job of helping restore salmon habitat. He will also represent all - all - citizens of Whatcom County. Again, lets hope the person running a clean campaign will win. I urge my fellow liberals and environmentalists to vote for Chris Hatch. And don't let the late smear postcard affect your thinking.
Header info as of Thursday, Nov 1
Check their websites - see links in right side column
Brett Bonner's blog has a good rundown on some of the low tactics the McShane campaign is using. It is a long but fascinating read.
Voter turnout. Shirley Forslof is estimating 55%. I'm betting below 50%.
Basically, the McShanes are preventing discussion of issues. I was hoping for some reporting by the Herald on issues these next few days. Instead their political reporter will have to spend hours tomorrow trying to learn the facts on this latest sad twist in the Public Disclosure Commission actions.
Irony of ironies, the PDC says that Dan Pike should not have released their letter to him to the press. Yep - their letter was supposed to not be Publically Disclosed. Go figure. The letter said the PDC considered the complaints against Pike to be not worth looking into further. Then the phone calls. Who got to who is the question now. This needs to wait till after the election.
Morning post - by someone who could be financially hurt if name used.
Can an average guy, self-made, with few advantages to begin with, other than industry and intelligence, have a shot? Can we ever get home made good government from machine manufactured politicians? Do you have to be connected to connect?
Reflecting on the mayoral campaign, Dan Pike wasn't given a chance last Spring. No one needed to smear him because he wasn't supposed to be a contender. No complaints about his moving in from Sudden Valley. No one called him an opportunist for moving, or criticized him for moving frequently over the years. No one needed to even think about the usual political tricks to undermine him.
Very few stepped forward with financial help for his campaign. But Dan Pike trudged on. Some listened, but most only heard the well funded speech of the establishment's front runners. But those who did listen heard a man who humbly put forward his thoughts and beliefs to be tested in the arena of public opinion. And many of his ideas, particularly his belief in open process, and inclusion, resonated.
And contrary to the expectations of the full time politicos, Dan Pike, with about a quarter of the money spent by the McShane campaign, received almost as many votes, enough to be in the general election.
Pike's friends told him that his opponents already had a bag of tricks planned for the election; and that they would go negative early, and get worse if his support grew. And this is of course how it has gone.
Now he is suspect for moving too often, but most suspect for moving into the city again. At the same time, he is criticized for not voting in the city, when he wasn't eligible to do so. His education is dismissed because he didn't do it quickly enough or early enough. And, of course, his opponents have oiled the rumor mill well.
But perhaps most amusing is the criticism from his opponent's campaign for accepting financial support from the wrong people. Amusing because the wrong people are just the folks who they tried to attract to their campaign.
Like his endorsements, Dan Pike's financial support has come from a very broad spectrum of groups and individuals in the community. This seems to be very promising for reaching important understandings on the issues facing us. Whatever the particular expectations of his supporters and contributors, they will be balanced by differing views.
And now we approach the moment of truth. Can an honest guy displace the political elites. Will he get a shot? Only if you want him to. The unfortunate effect of negative campaigning is it confuses many and turns voters off. This is less of a problem to a political machine, but a real disadvantage to an open, popular campaign.
Please don't be discouraged. Vote for Dan Pike. You will thank yourself later.
I prefer to "label" myself radical, as compared with liberal. I struck upon the notion lobbying in Washington, D.C.
There, I painfully learned that liberals don't understand the basics of business: customer service, or in the vernacular, constituency services.
In Democratic offices I often felt my presence an annoyance to their busy schedule - whether or not I had an appointment. In Republican offices, I was usually welcomed with an offer of coffee, a place to sit down and the assurance that I would be seen as soon as possible - even when they already knew me!.
I wished that my likely allies would operate with more open minds than my presumed foes. I've seen the same, with less intensity,at the local level. Once only Doug Erickson bothered to reply to a request - and then followed up with actual help. I was shocked. He made an effort because the project made sense, locally and globally, regardless of ideology. Liberals all too often get in their own way.
This campaign season set a new low for quality of dialog. I wonder if the issues would have been better with a conservative in the race. It's too bad when a liberal paints another as a conservative or worse. It's worst when they stoop to innuendo, rumor or falsehoods. Having two reasonably likeminded candidates should afford a rare opportunity to take the adventure of ideas to another level - to steer the darn ship! They ought to be out there advancing their ideas.
I've chosen Pike because he comported his campaign in dignity, has demonstrated a sound understanding of the issues I feel are most important to our city's future, and because I have always seen him treat other's ideas with respect. And that's the best I can hope for mine.
Perhaps that's why the Building Industry Association supported Pike even after he declined their endorsement. It's all about respect.
Low voter turnout? With such heated campaigns is it possible we could have less than a 50% voter turnout? Well, at the rate of ballot returns as of Tuesday, we are on track for a ballot return of below 40%. That seems impossible in a General Election and most junkies I've talked with think we will have a huge surge these last seven days. But then, some of us expected a surge in Tuesday's mail after the weekend - and there was none. Right now, only 13% of ballots have been returned. At this time in the Primary Election, we had 15% and ended up with a total vote of 30% voter turnout. You do the math.
A week ago some of us thought maybe a 65% return and then I talked with some folks in the courthouse who thought 55% and then we tracked the numbers and it seems it might be lower. The actual numbers as of Tuesday are 13,527 ballots returned of 102,655 issued, or 13.2% return after two weeks of voting. A very good year was the 2004 General Election return at 86%.
Why? Maybe the mayor campaigns are turning people off. We know there is little in the county to turn people on. For instance, in the rural 3rd county council district, Brenner is unopposed for council and Kremen is easily in and those folks cannot vote in the other two council races. So, 1/6 of our voters have little to motivate them to mail in their ballots. Regarding the mayor's thing, perhaps people are still undecided. We all know we are still receiving political postcards every day. Or at least frequent voters are and most readers of this fit that group.
What affect would a low turnout have? Who would it benefit and who would it hurt? I don't know. The answer might be those who campaign the cleanest and on issues that people are concerned about. Maybe, like in primary elections, some candidates are able to get their supporters to vote - to turn out their supporters and get them to mail in those ballots. I do know the experienced campaign managers are also tracking these numbers closely even though they are not talking about them. And making decisions based on them.
Who is Royce Buckingham - and why does he think he needs to prevent democratic processes from taking place? This guy - a lawyer in the Prosecuting Attorney's office - is one of three members of the Canvassing Board. At this morning's hour and a half long board meeting, he continually tried to stop any of the dozen concerned citizens from speaking. The irony is he violated normal processes himself by not asking the other two board members, Carl Weimer and Debbie Adelstein, if they wanted to allow citizens and candidates to speak.
That minor ballot glitch? Well it took the board most of this morning to reject plan B, modify it into plan C and adopt it. Even the final plan is a little ambiguous on citizen observers watching all the processes. Pete Griffin, the Election Supervisor, just does not like observers looking "over the shoulders" of his staff. Pete seems to forget that observers are part of state law. We can trust the citizen observers - some of them at the meeting - to insist on watching all.
Those 9,211 ballots with incorrect bar codes will be hand corrected starting Tuesday morning - and with safeguards in place to ensure personal privacy and full public observation of the process. The board did allow any of the dozen citizens in attendance to speak during the first half of the meeting. The board then recessed so staff could type up the plan C and reconvened to tweak, discuss and approve it.
Bill Geyer had concerns the plan did not allow for observers to watch all stages of the ballot corrections. Yes, we were finally allowed to speak. Bill was concerned that "... a raw ballot is going to be marked in some fashion" by staff to enable it to be processed by the computer and neutral observers should watch this. Pete Griffin again objected to observers at all stages. The board discussed and decided to amend the plan to increase observers presence. Hmm - imagine that, Royce. Citizens had some valuable ideas to contribute.
No reporters there at all. The Herald has minimized this issue throughout - even though the Secretary of State was strongly involved most of the day Friday nudging our local Auditor's office to be more careful with correcting these ballots. Sam Taylor is now back from a long weekend out of Dodge and we can hope for a report in Tuesday's paper as he has phoned Marian Beddill for information on the meeting.
Royce Buckingham. What a confused guy. Two stories from this morning's meeting that are worth telling. First, after the presentation by Debbie Adelstein of what the plan B was, Royce asked several questions that showed he did not have a clue what the problem was. He has been on the canvassing board for years but he did not know what a "header barcode" was and did not know that the precinct and splitter information is printed on each ballot. He even asked if the security envelopes needed to be marked. No, Royce, just the ballots. And the barcode is at the top - head - of each ballot.
Then, after the recess, when one gal went up to the lectern to ask a question, Royce informed her that he had checked with prosecutor colleagues during the recess and the board did not have to accept any public testimony. He again did not check with his two fellow board members. And neither spoke up. She said she just had a question but he told her to save it and ask staff later. So, she stepped over to Shirley Forslof, sitting about six feet away, and whispered her question and Shirley whispered an answer. Before the gal had reached her seat, Royce looked at Shirley and quietly asked if it was information the board needed. Shirley told him no, it was just a question and she had answered it.
Is the Herald in denial? Nothing in Friday's or today's Herald on the screwup of ballots by the Whatcom County Auditor. For a few hours Friday their website had a very small post which minimized the seriousness of 9,211 ballots being mailed without any barcodes on them. The Auditor notified the Herald and other news media on Thursday - plenty of time for Friday's newspaper. But the editors choose to not print anything about this. Below was all they posted Fri morn. By the way, the barcodes were not 'misprinted'. They were missing.
On Friday afternoon, even this small notice online was deleted by the Herald editors. Today - Saturday - they printed nothing in the newspaper and posted nothing online. To the Herald, this is not news.
Yet on Friday afternoon, the Herald along with other news media, received notices from the Auditor's office that the error was much more serious. The Secretary of State got involved big time on Friday, virtually forcing Elections Supervisor Pete Griffin to revise his casual plan into a more structured plan that will protect voter identity. Late Friday afternoon the Auditor, Shirley Forslof, scheduled a special meeting of the Canvassing Board for 8:45 am Monday morning to review this plan on how to handle these 9,211 ballots that are missing barcodes. Yes, I will be there and will post here.
Let us hope the Herald wakes up in time for Sunday's paper. But keep in mind that except for some citizen activists - led by Marian Beddill - and support from this website, there would be no revised procedures, no involvement by the Secretary of State and no safeguard of voter privacy and ballot integrity. Pete Griffin was just going to have staff open envelopes and write numbers on ballots without proper controls. Pete Griffin got in his opinion of our involvement when he had to send out revised procedures Friday evening - he made them locked pdf files that we cannot print nor even copy the text off. Nice touch, Pete. There is more to this story and you can read Marian's post on the Black Box Voting website.
For voters with the defective ballots, fill them out as normal and mail them in as normal. The Auditor's office has the ability to process these with safeguards to your privacy and to make sure every vote is counted properly. And several citizens will be monitoring this process to make sure they do.
11 pm - Marian Beddill has posted a good technical description of what happened with our ballots. She uses this serious incident to explain why computerized voting has serious problems.
9 pm - A long day of emails to the Secretary of State office in Olympia - and mostly silence from our Auditor here in Bellingham. With leadership from Marian Beddill in Bellingham nudging public officials, Olympia has urged our Auditor to rethink the process for counting those 9,211 screwed up ballots. New procedures were written up this afternoon and they will be presented to the Canvassing Board at 8:45 am Monday at the Auditor's office in the Courthouse for discussion, possible modification and approval. Ballot processing of the defective ballots will begin only on Tuesday morning. We'll see what the Herald finally prints about this supposed "minor" problem. The Auditor first learned of this on October 18 but did not even tell Olympia until October 23 and us on Oct 25. This is a serious error. And the earlier process would have compromised the secret voting of many citizens.
11 am - Seems our Auditor knew last week about this problem and delayed informing us for a full week.
10 am - Seems our Auditor knew of this problem days before she informed our local news media and us citizens of it yesterday. More soon.
9 am - Concern: 9,211 ballots were sent to Whatcom County voters without the needed barcodes that identify which governmental districts the person lives in. The Auditor is minimizing this serious error - and the Herald, while notified yesterday, did not even print a story in today's paper. This is, in my opinion, a potentially serious error that can result in candidate or citizen complaints that could throw out the election. The Auditor, Shirley Forslof, is vague about the fix and it appears her fix could reveal to election workers how individual persons vote and could result in a vote count that is unverifiable. Other activists share this concern and the Secretary of State will be contacted today. There is urgency to this because on Monday the ballots start being processed. More on this soon.
In Dan Pike we have another person of integrity and intelligence. We can expect he will bring an open and fair process to our city hall. He has the experience and training to provide city departments with solid management. Our Bellingham city government really really needs good management. And I am confident that Dan Pike is the better candidate to provide that for us.
While I have respected Dan McShane's environmental concerns and his efforts on the county council, he is simply not as good a choice for mayor as is Pike. Along with others who have known McShane for years, we do not like his preference to work behind the scenes and his attitude that he knows better than the rest of us. The reconveyance of property on Lake Whatcom is a good example. And, with or without his approval, his campaign people are running the dirtiest campaign I've ever watched. They have little respect for the truth and seem to take sport in smearing those who endorse Dan Pike.
We have a rare opportunity in Dan Pike. I've gotten to see how he thinks during the past few months and this guy is really intelligent. We need that. Lets do ourselves a good turn and get the best person in as our mayor. As we try and solve some of our challenges in neighborhood planning, waterfront development and ensuring that we protect our water reservoir in Lake Whatcom, we will really appreciate having a really good mayor. Please join me in voting for Dan Pike.
V-Stan Snapp - Don't ask me why Servais hasn't endorsed Stan Snapp. Here's a guy that has worked his way up and tirelessly served his community, who has broad popular support and plenty of organizational endorsements - except the three he didn't want and which happen to be the only ones his opponent has: The Republicans, the Building Industry Association and the Whatcom County Realtors.
Geez Louise! If you are going to endorse someone, John, let it be Stan! So if you won't, I will. Make it so!
Louise Bjornson got my vote. Yep, ballot is mailed. And I found myself at the moment of truth thinking that, you know, we will get at least three smart bucks on the new council and four if Bill Geyer is elected. We can use a little softness. Louise might be able to teach those guys a bit about how to be accessible to citizens. She has our city's best interests in mind and she will certainly do no harm. She might do some real good. I know she will do her best.
My fears also got the best of me. I watched Lilliquist in action on the southside before he filed for city council. He is largely running because of planning issues in his neighborhood. He has not been involved in any city wide processes nor civic issues. My concern is the At Large council member should especially be interested in city wide issues. I feel his interests are too narrow. He needs to serve on some commissions first or be active in public processes for a few years.
So a belated V for my endorsement goes in front of Louise's name.
Bellingham Weekly redux? Have you seen this new website?
Personalities, not issues have dominated this election cycle. It's not that there are no issues to discuss. It's just that our democracy has apparently developed lazy habits. The digital revolution has made it easier than ever to engage in meaningful dialog, but for some reason many avoid it. Of course, being able to communicate does not make it any easier to assemble and digest information or to synthesize thoughtful positions or opinions.
Case in point: Over at blogspot.com, pro-McShane partisans have egregiously ripped off the content of this site, re-posting on theirs to "let the fun begin" by opening the material to public comment. The only problem is that their effort has resulted mainly in demonstrating their campaign's hallmark smearing and bashing tactics. It is virtually devoid of constructive effort on any significant issue. Check it out for yourself. There is a lot of small-minded and mean-spirited blather going on over there. It is impossible to say whether they lack initiative, ideas or manners.
In hopes that it might stimulate a bit of creative thought and commentary on their part, I am today providing ten issues that I feel have been wholly under-addressed this season. Perhaps these ideas will stimulate thought in others before they mark their ballots, too. There are lots more issues. These are just a few, from mainly a city perspective. I encourage everyone to define their own. We would all benefit from actually discussing them.
Click on any item for a more detailed description. If you'd like a taste of the kind of abuse anyone expressing their opinion is likely to suffer, then tune into the counterfeit blog site to see the kind of contribution they are making. Meanwhile, I encourage everyone to consider their issues and to share them while you get out the vote.
Seth Fleetwood has endorsed Dan Pike for Mayor of Bellingham. We have all been wondering if and who Seth would endorse. He also ran for mayor and had a strong showing in the August primary. Today he announced. Seth is quite well liked by most folks on the left and right and his endorsement is no doubt appreciated by the Pike campaign folks. Seth has been on the county council for six years and has a reputation for consistent voting on his environmental concerns.
Podcasts from the Oct 16 forum have been posted up at the KGMI website. As I reference in yesterday's post, listening to the mayoral candidates is very worthwhile. You can select which candidate pairs you want to listen to without listening to others. It is a real service by KGMI radio. And a great forum that the Whatcom Independent weekly newspaper organized and the League of Women Voters helped sponsor.
Lois Garlick has been an active environmentalist in this county for decades - yet last night Pete Kremen had the gall to suggest he is the better environmentalist, citing an endorsement from an astroturf group. Pete cannot even allow Lois the dignity of being the more environmentally aware of the two of them. Lois has my vote. I want her to get at least 20% and hopefully encourage the county council to stand up to Pete in the future.
Chris Hatch should be elected to the county council. His opponent, Bob Kelly, continues to not show up for candidate forums. Kelly has shown little interest in doing much campaigning at all - apparently depending on the big money donations and the slick advertising that his campaign manager is providing.
Bill Geyer just dominated his debate with Terry Bornemann, as he has at other forums. Bill has a far better knowledge of the issues and some very specific and practical solutions. For instance, Geyer continues to remind us that the Chuckanut Ridge development environmental study will probably require the developer to save - set aside - the wetlands and sensitive areas without the need for us to spend eight or more millions of tax dollars to buy it. Terry said he is not sure what is planned and wants to wait. Dah.
Neighborhoods. Terry was no help to us in Happy Valley when we updated our plan. Despite his talk of preserving our quality of living he has been part of the problem. He is as responsible as anyone for the confused planning process the residents in oher neighborhoods are now struggling with. Bill Geyer will bring fairness and clear thinking to our city planning processes. We badly need that.
Louise Bjornson scored strongly against Lilliquist with her question of where has he been in community involvement prior to his filing for her council seat in June. Answer; not involved. Michael tried to sidestep the question but she followed up. Indeed, he had no real answer for his lack of previous public activity. I personally will be voting for Louise because she at least has her heart in the right place. Lilliquist decided to run on a whim and with no experience of city wide issues. He would spend two years just learning what the city issues are. Besides, he is mainly concerned with his Fairhaven area.
Mayor. There is no way I can summarize this exchange between the Dans. You want to listen to this when KGMI posts the podcasts. Not there yet. (Oct18 - there now) For now -- Pike again showed his mastery of the issues. McShane tried to paste two negatives on Pike but Pike responded with full knowledge of both and put them right back at McShane.
The Dans. The differences as I see them. McShane likes to work behind the scenes and feels he knows what is best for us - and many think his ideas and solutions are great. Pike likes to provide a very open process where everyone can participate and we can all follow the development of solutions. McShane is, I think, a great person for the council where he can promote his ideas. But Pike is an administrator who has a proven record of bringing departments, agencies and groups together and finding solutions through an open process.
I am for Pike for these reasons. I am for open government and have worked for decades for that in our county, port and city. In Pike we have a rare opportunity to elect an outstanding mayor. Some people believe in an elite with supposedly better visions for our future and they have a hard time with open processes and open discussion of issues. They have tried repeatedly to smear Pike with stories that continue to prove false. We should not believe the latest ones we read or hear. Pike is the real thing and he can bring his solid administrative skills to benefit all of us in Bellingham. He needs our votes.
Candidate forum this evening at the Courthouse. In the county council chambers - a great place with good seats, good sound system and easy to see all the candidates. The Whatcom Independent format makes for some debate between candidates and the answering of written questions from the audience.
KGMI - AM 790 - will carry the forum live. Brett Bonner is the moderator and this forum moves right along under his guidance.
Sam Taylor will be posting live to his blog at the Herald during the forum. This is a first for our local news media. You could listen to KGMI and link to Sam's blog from the comfort of your home.
Or, plan to attend. There is a huge amount of seating and the good old Americana political ambience is always fun. Plus candidates will all be looking to shake hands and meet citizens.
Full information is posted at the top of this page.
Oct 16, Tuesday, 6:30 pm, Courthouse county council chamber
While Dan McShane has called the Herald about the blog ripoff of nwcitizen, he has not contacted me. Go figure. Sam Taylor has it on his blog at the Herald.
If you read the comments on the ripoff nwcitizen blog then you get a good idea of the immature and scatological minded partisans who are doing this. This sentence will be posted and made fun of. None of them will identify themselves and their names are anagrams of my name - mostly insulting. The most notable thing is they hide behind anonymous aliases. They could start their own website but it is more fun to ripoff this and make fun of me. Judge for yourself. I think it says more about them than about me.
I am taking steps to hopefully have it taken down but the legal costs might be too expensive. I am revising my copyright notice as in the past I've allowed persons to email some post without needed to seek protection. The pranksters are now stretching that to mean they can post the whole site to make it look exactly like this. I think they have violated copyright law but time will tell. They think they are attacking and making fun of me and Dan Pike but they are actually attacking free speech in America. I have put my name to this site and take the consequences. Most people - 99.9% of people - will not speak out because of the insults and personal trash that comes their way from these people. If you speak out then your boss gets called and much more.
Google.com has written me that I need to provide them with a court order in order to get the names of the ripoff posters. That may be impossible.
Here is a sample of a page of comments from these folks. Nice stuff. And here is the home page. I have written Google legal asking that they take down this illegal use of my writings. I am linking to it for now so all can see the mentality of those who are doing the ad homonyms against Pike. This has apparently been going on for days or weeks but I only learned of it this afternoon. Yes, I feel ripped off and violated. If someone wants to post their own website - with their own real name - and attack me, then that is their right. But to use my writing and to distort it - and delete the copyright from the top of the pages - and post anonymous insults is really in poor taste.
Here is the link to the home of the Idiot page. I hope it disappears soon. Until then, you can judge for yourself the mentality of some of these folks. Sort of reminds one of the insane practice of tree spiking that some enviro radicals favored years ago. Just do something that will hurt people but do it at night and be a sneak about it. And deny it years later. Real guys.
Wait a minute - didn't mayor Mark have a 'computer' problem a few years ago during his campaign and the budget - with tax increase - was delayed till after the election? Yes. So - hanky panky by city hall to favor incumbents is not out of the question. Politics as usual. I'm sure John Watts would say I should find areas of agreement and not be so critical and suspicious. But my attitude is city government is way too important to be treated like a group friendship. There are people who make power plays for pure self interest reasons.
John Watts has posted thousands of words the past couple days about the neighborhood planning processes. I disagree with his analysis based on my four years of intense experience updating our Happy Valley plan plus over 30 years paying attention to our city planning processes. To rebut all his statements would take me thousands of words. Instead, here are some thoughts to keep in mind when you read his posts.
- Neighborhood planning process was in place in the 1990s and going forward. But Happy Valley residents managed to get the plan they wanted and not what the city planning department wanted them to have. Immediately, all neighborhood planning stopped for five years. And during those years, many planning options that the neighborhoods had were actually taken away and made city wide. Thus Watts statement that the city has given "... renewed emphasis on its neighborhoods." is not supported by the actions of the city council these past five years. The city has stripped the neighborhoods of planning powers.
- If neighborhoods are so important, then why has no neighborhood planning has taken place for over 5 years. None - until last November when city planning urged - indeed begged and pushed - 18 of our 22 neighborhoods to file papers for updating their plans. Zero for five years; 18 in one year. That is not a process. That is chaos. Why? Until the new rules were in effect, the city was afraid of updates because the neighborhood residents would control the process rather than the city planning department. The truth is, the old rules gave the neighbors much more power over their neighborhood plans.
- The council voted in a new comprehensive plan a couple years ago that outlined the new planning process and they voted in new rules. But the discussion and hearings on that comprehensive plan were a charade. Anyone care to recall? Those meetings were noticed as 'educational meetings' to help us learn what we needed to do for a new comprehensive plan. I directly challenged Barbara Ryan on this question at a public meeting and she insisted it was only educational. Many of us who were watching the process suspected it was going to be later cited as the public planning process - and not an educational process. Terry Bornemann also said it was merely educational. And so did the city planners. It was not the truth. We were tricked.
So - three things. The neighborhoods have been stripped of many options they had in the 1990s planning process; there has been 5 years of no neighborhood updates and now there is a confused mess of 18 updates; and the comprehensive plan under which the new rules rest was a trick on the citizens. Don't buy that? Go check the record. And you might read my post of Sunday, Oct 7 for further info and opinion on the city planning.
You know that frog in water saying? How to boil one? Well it is false. A frog will at some point crawl out of a pan of water with a slowly rising temperature. But it seems that it does work with people. Change things slowly and people do not notice and will even claim nothing changed. Or think things are better because the water is warmer.
For what they are worth, or not worth, today I am posting my preferences or endorsements for candidates. I describe myself as a progressive and those who know me consider me very liberal and a tree huger but fiscally conservative, However, I do not just support liberals or Democrats. Never have. I know too much about how politics works. Rather I look for integrity, a love of the community and intelligence so we get competence, Over the years, some very conservative elected representatives have done far more for supposedly liberal causes than our supposed liberal officials.
Case in point: Bruce Ayers on the Bellingham City Council, a conservative, was key to keeping the Fairhaven Library open when our liberal council and mayor wanted to close it. Bruce also blocked the liberals from destroying our Happy Valley neighborhood. Terry Bornemann and Louise Bjornson were no help and Terry was arrogant and disdainful towards us as he supported anything the city planners and WWU wanted. Terry also has tried to block any comprehensive traffic study of the southside - something that a 'friend' of neighborhoods should be all for. Elected liberals often have non liberal agendas.
Bottom line - I ignore labels. One reason the local established liberal elite does not have any truck with me is I am not loyal to their 'causes' and candidates. Yet I am for liberal and progressive causes. I tell you this now only so as to explain how I approach endorsements. There are some campaigns where I've not yet been able to see a real advantage of one candidate over the other. While I'll probably vote for Stan Snapp, Damon Gray will also make a very good city council representative and so I may not put that 'V' in front of Stan. There is also no reason to endorse those with no opposition. I like Jack Weiss but it is meaningless to put a V in front of his name. I hope my efforts are of value to you. As John Watts recently posted on his HamsterTalk blog, please vote.
Lois Garlick has a 4 minute video on YouTube that is worth every voter watching. Please spread the word. I am strongly backing Lois for Whatcom County Executive. Many say she is too old. Well, Pete Kremen - and our mayors - depend on their administrative assistants to actually run our county and city governments on a day to day basis. So will Lois, if elected. She will hire a first class executive manager - but she will insist on high principles and will allow the departments to do their jobs.
Most of us - myself included - recognize that Lois supposedly doesn't have a chance. But we can send a message that we want better county government by protesting Pete's abusive behavior and the do nothing track record of our county government. There is no down side to voting for Lois. It is a vote for better government. Lets give Pete a big rebuff with a good vote tally for Lois. She is running the good campaign and doing her best. She knows the odds. But she is doing this for us. Watch the video.
Lois is not a public speaker. But, as all who have quietly discussed issues with her know, her mind is sharp and her will is very much there. She filed for the executive in the last minutes of the filing period because the potential candidates she had been counting on did not file. She has worked for decades to enhance our county and she has watched Pete let things slide away during his 12 years in office. Our county departments have to be allowed to do their jobs. Lois can do a better job than Pete has done.
Watch her video. Tell others. Vote for Lois. Things can be better.
Sam Taylor, the Bellingham Herald government reporter, has his own blog at the Herald website as of this morning. The link is also posted in the top right column for future reference. Welcome online, Sam.
A few observations on the city candidates, based on tonight and previous forums. We have some offices where either candidate will do a good job. Barry Buchanan and Larry Farr, running for city council 3rd Ward seat are both good candidates. There are differences and I have a preference - but either will represent us well. Same for Stan Snapp and Damon Gray. There, I've known Stan for over 20 years and was for him at the beginning of the campaign. He has not disappointed but I've become very impressed with Damon Gray. Damon has shown a strong grasp of issues and an understanding of how people are concerned. Either will serve us very well. All four showed very good awareness of the basic needs issues of poverty, hunger and homelessness. All four have conducted honorable campaigns that deal with the issues. Those who lose will be welcomed back to run for office in future years.
Then there are Louise Bjornson and Michael Lilliquist for the At Large seat. I'm at a point where I'll probably vote for Louise - and I never thought I would again. Michael is impressing everyone with his intelligence and speaking ability. I suffer from having watched him be one of the leaders to cause the divisiveness in the Fairhaven neighborhood earlier this year. He decided to run on almost the spur of the moment when he and some of his friends felt betrayed by Louise. I'm concerned that the arrogance and bullying he showed before deciding to file for office may return once he is elected. In the end, we know Louise means well but is not a focused representative. She loves the office. Maybe things will clarify between these two in the next couple weeks.
It has been a long day. Till tomorrow, good night.
The above was written late Tuesday evening after several phone calls with others as we have tried to narrow down the source of rumors about Dan Pike.
Tis now midnight and the Herald Wednesday issue is online. Sam Taylor has an article on the very issues we have been concerned with. It is a good article.
There is no question for me about the dirty mayoral campaign. Pike's group is not doing negative. Indeed, while I am not part of his campaign, I have not seen one single thing from his campaign that is negative. It is really a sad commentary on our local politics that he and his wife have had to deal with this stuff. I remember a few years ago when Tip Johnson ran for Port Commissioner and some of these same people smeared him over family matters. Funny how the same names come up every election.
Lets hope Sam Taylor's willingness to print up this stuff will serve notice that if the Herald learns the particulars of later smears that it may print those particulars.
After years of no action and two weeks before ballots are mailed, our old do nothing elective powers announce a dramatic decision to form a joint city-county arrangement to solve the Lake Whatcom problems. But with the same old players, what can we expect. Tip Johnson has some thoughts on all this.
Tip Johnson wrote the following.
Starting in the mid-eighties, when I was on the City Council, I sat on the original Joint City-County Lake Whatcom Advisory Committee, comprised of elected officials from both City and County as well as stakeholders from the community. We had the original Lake Whatcom Management Plan - really a menu of possible management strategies - to plow through and from which to make recommendations.
Talk about talk! It wasn't long before I was making the same motion every meeting: Before we waste a lot more time, let's decide if we want to 1) do the best possible job, 2) make a middlin' sort of effort or, 3) do the best possible job of protecting water quality. Never could get a second for that motion. Imagine that.
Times were different. Believe it or not, the City's public Works Director at the time, Jack Garner, would actually use the Mississippi River as an example of why additional treatment was a realistic alternative to protection.
True, a multi-jurisdictional approach is needed, but mainly because land use regulation on the lake must be integrated. The Councils' could already take care of that. They should have a long time ago.
The so-called "problem" with the lake is not so complex as it is made out. It is a simple matter of determining what uses of the watershed are reasonable and amending the land use code accordingly. A couple more regulations consistent with a determination of reasonable uses of the lake and voila!
The real problem is that once you put housing and water skiing at the top of the list of reasonable uses, you're going to have long discussions about adding pure drinking water.
I wouldn't start griping about the costs just yet, though. This is nothing. The real need for such a bureaucracy is to justify and sanction spreading the cost of solutions across the community. For instance, the cost of shoreline intercepts and facilities to capture and treat polluted storm water ought to be assessed to the properties creating the problem. More likely, it will end up a general tax obligation. Same goes with septic replacement programs, etc.
Don't get me wrong. I support any effort to save the lake, but like any government initiative, citizens ought to be wary.
The well rehearsed Town Hall meeting with Governor Christine Gregoire will take place this evening. Rehearsed, you ask? Oh yes. Democrats in power take no more chance with real democracy than do Republicans. The audience gets seeded with the right people and the agenda gets tested and as much control as possible is set in place ahead of time. Listen to the people? No no. How old fashioned. The purpose is to get public approval for the Gov's proposals. After all, there is an election next year. Hello.
Rehearsed? Well, gee, I guess the Herald forgot to report the focus group last week. The Gov's advance team paid 50 selected local citizens $50 bucks each to sit in for a mock session and give their feedback to issues tested on them. That gives the Gov's staff a feel for local attitudes. Tonight's session will get the benefit of what was learned. Oh, and those 50 all got free passes to sit in the best seats - those close to the Gov - for tonight's meeting. They have been warmed up just as talk show audiences get warmed up before the star comes out.
So - let's take the news reports of how successful and wonderful this down to earth, grassroots 'town hall' democracy event with more than a grain of salt. Any suggestions from the audience are also probably arranged ahead of time. The risk of a suggestion from a citizen that runs counter to Gregoire's agenda is minimized as much as possible. This is a kick off for her 2008 campaign for reelection. Nothing more. If you think this a cynical opinion then perhaps you are forgetting already the purpose of the very expensive focus group event.
Neighborhood organizations and the dysfunctional Bellingham planning process has finally made the Herald. It has been a year in the making - and the roots are in the five year remake of city planning codes by former mayor Mark Asmundson and former planning director George Vega and with council approval.
The basic cause of the problem is the unconstitutional and outside the law creation of exclusive neighborhood associations that get to speak for all residents - even those not members of the association. The new city codes illegally strip people of their rights to participate in city planning that affects their property or interests.
The last neighborhood plan to be updated was Happy Valley in 2000. I was a major player in that 4 year struggle and I could write a book. We did not struggle amongst ourselves as we neighbors were united in our vision and worked together fairly well. We struggled against the Bellingham Planning Department. And we won. We got the plan that preserved our neighborhood as a liveable place.
Our association reached out to all residents but we did not pretend to speak for them. That is the difference between then and now. We were a group of many home owners, renters and business owners who associated together freely but did not claim to speak for others in our neighborhood who were not members. Every person was free to participate in the planning process as fully as was our association. Our association visions gained full neighborhood acceptance because we worked with all to create a plan that worked for all.
After our success, the city cancelled all neighborhood updates and started a process to change the rules - I think to prevent any neighborhood from again being united and beating city hall. Neighborhoods were stripped of many processes and they were made city wide. A sanctioned system of creating exclusive associations that could be manipulated was put in place. The associations were given play money to spend for city planning staff time to work with them on their plan. Most importantly, those not in the association were disenfranchised of their constitutional rights as citizens.
Suddenly last November, 18 of our 22 neighborhoods applied for their plans to be updated. To those who think there is not 'manipulation' - do you really think all those applications were by coincidence? After over 5 years of no updates? In Fairhaven - the subject of today's Herald article - it was several months after that update process began that the city thought to suggest to the association that they inform others in the neighborhood of what was happening. Follow that? Half the neighborhood did not know a thing for months. And then the city told the 'official' association that it, not the city, had the responsibility to notify others. Gentle reader, the notification of citizens about city processes is the responsibility of the city.
These associations are fine. But the city must not require anyone to join in order to participate. We in Happy Valley did just fine without exclusive power. The exclusive power vested in one group causes turmoil and anger inside each neighborhood - which allows city planning to manipulate the entire process and get the plan that the city planning staff wants. And the city avoids what happened with Happy Valley - where we were united and beat the city and got the plan we wanted.
What did Happy Valley get? We stopped Western Washington University from expanding into 17 of our city blocks and creating a "grand formal entrance" up 21st Street to the campus - an unneeded trinket of their planning. We reduced lot sizes from 7,500 to 5,000 sq feet in much of the neighborhood, helping infill. Happy Valley has increased in density more than any neighborhood in the city - while still staying very liveable. City planning was against us on these.
We zoned every block north of Knox for high density apartments for the college students. Since then we have not objected to a single project north of Knox as developers are encouraged to build quality environments for students. We grandfathered in all apartments in our single family zones so that if they burned down they could rebuild. We wanted them to improve their buildings and have the security their business needed. We told our commercial area - the Sehome Village - that they we had no interest in dictating to them what their design guidelines or codes were. City planning was against us on these.
We had to sue the city for violating the Growth Management laws - and we won. Over 100 residents contributed over $10,000, we hired an attorney, and won. The city worked secretly with WWU to try and torpedo our efforts to prevent Western from illegally overrunning Happy Valley.
By the way, that above link is just one nugget of many that the Herald never reported. There are reports in NwCitizen from 1996 through 2001 over the planning process. This site was used to help us Happy Valley residents get the word out as the Herald did not report the truth of our planning process.
Bottom Line - the current city planning process is illegal and is the cause of the problems in the neighborhoods. The goal of the revised planning process is to allow the city planning department to railroad through their visions of what the city should become.
One last anecdote. The inside cover of the Bellingham Comp Plan Report ( I cannot find my copy just now and may have the title wrong) - there is listed, with thanks, in large type the names of some residents. Many others are thanked in the back pages in small type. Number 7 on the large type list is my name. Gentle reader, I spoke to only one meeting and it was to blast the process as bogus. You see, the city said that the meetings we attended were to educate us residents for a future comprehensive planning process - and when the year of meetings was over, the city said that had been the process and we had a new comp plan. The Herald went along with this charade - this shell game. Our Comp Plan was illegally constructed contrary to state law. But no one has looked at the record nor challenged it. And today we read headlines of the feuding in neighborhoods. It does not need to be that way. - John Servais
John Watts has posted a good response on his HamsterTalk to Mitch Friedman's guest opinion piece in yesterday's Whatcom Independent. Since Mitch had a kind word for John in the piece, it is nice to see John categorically dismantle Mitch's politically motivated article. Mitch pretends to righteous anger against persons like myself - so named - who have raised questions about the surprise announcement of the 8,000 acre park by McShane and Kremen during their campaigns.
Myron Wlaznak has an opinion piece in the Indy also and he provides a very good critical analysis of the surprise park announcement. Knowing how the Indy works, I'm sure neither writer knew of the other's piece. Myron goes to the heart of the matter - the fact that Pete Kremen and Dan McShane both feel comfortable with this deal having been conducted in secret over the past few years and without public process. They both participated and take credit. This is a deal between government agencies and are no private property land negotiations and thus no reason for the secret process.
My concern is two fold. First, while I have appreciated McShane's work in general on the county council, he has always had a tendency to think he knows better than his colleagues and better than the rest of us what is best for us. I do not want this in our new mayor. We have had 11 years of Mark's secrecy and back room deals and we all want a fresh change to a more open city hall. McShane's pride in his behind the scenes activity as an elected representative suggests he will bring this practice to the mayor's office. This deal had nothing about it that could not have been done in public and should have included the other county council members. McShane and Kremen excluded them.
Second, the deal itself was announced during the campaign. John Watts blew the surprise in his September 11 post which probably forced the late September announcement by Pete and McShane of the deal - instead of an October announcement. This timing was planned to give a political boost to Kremen and McShane. Mitch, in his opinion piece, makes a baited suggestion to Dan Pike that amounts to a mocking insult. You should know that Mitch is deeply imbedded in the McShane campaign. He is also deeply involved in the secret negotiations these past years. The use of what should be public process to help the election campaign of McShane is repugnant to me. Read the red type at the top of this page. This is why I put in the effort to post these 12 years.
Tom Pratum also comes under fire by Mitch. You should know that Tom has written extremely valuable articles for years in the Whatcom Watch about how we should protect Lake Whatcom and our drinking water source. Mitch suggests that I am in cahoots with Tom. You should know that I don't think I've ever met Tom and have not communicated with him. I do look forward to meeting him. Of course Mitch would not know that Tom and I do not know each other. His nutty accusation is baseless.
During the primary, I was for Pike but also liked Seth Fleetwood and McShane. However, during this general election I have seen the negative campaign the McShane group has mounted and the use of what should be public process for their own private gain. I have changed my opinion and no longer think Dan McShane would make a good mayor. He and his supporters, who will influence him in office, do not have an appreciation for public process and will not bring us the changes we all hope for in our next city government.
I am supporting Dan Pike for mayor and urge others to also. Lets do what we can to help him win the election. He will bring openness and good administration to our city hall. We have a rare chance to elect an outstanding person to be our mayor. - John Servais
Thur, Oct 4
Full firehouse for the candidate forum this evening in Fairhaven. Some candidates are starting to ask trap and poison questions while some others are showing a fine respect for each other. Terry Borneman was quite petty and negative last evening and tried a new nasty this evening on his opponent Bill Geyer. In contrast, Barry Buchanan and Larry Farr have respected each other and virtually all the other candidates have asked good questions of their opponents.
I've got 11 pages of notes from forums and no time yet to write up some comments. John Watts put up a nice bunch of glib takeouts - without candidate names - on his HamsterTalk blog yesterday. After you watch the forum on TV then go back to his Oct 3 post and enjoy the read. Meanwhile I hope to get the several hours needed to post notes from two good forums. I'm disappointed that Sam Taylor spent all last evening at the forum and then only got a small snippet into the Herald about the Treasurer's race. Sam could have given us a great rundown of the forum if his Herald editors had allowed him the space.
The Cascadia Weekly has a surprising and very good interview with Bill Geyer. Uber Liberal Tim Johnson suggests we liberals take a serious look at Geyer for replacing Terry Bornemann. For myself, I will be voting for Bill Geyer. Supposedly liberal Terry argued against a comprehensive traffic study as part of the comp plan - something we on the Bellingham south side need. When we updated our Happy Valley neighborhood a few years ago, Terry was no friend of ours as we fought city planning to achieve a decent plan. Terry talks but does not walk his talk. So, I am quite pleased to see other progressives taking a fresh look at Bill Geyer for the 5th Ward city council seat. Bill has presented some very good thinking in the forums - and I encourage you to watch him and note his ideas on the Btv10 replays of the Oct 3 forum.
The candidate forum this evening was a good one. It will be much better on Btv10 as it is rebroadcast many times this month. For the live audience, the two TV cameras were really in the way. Check the Btv10 schedule . The forum will first run this Saturday at 1 pm and will repeat for several weeks at several other times and days. The schedule is posted in the top right column. It will also at some point be available for viewing online at the city website - if you have a broadband internet connection.
I will be posting comments here but I realized during the forum this evening that the best service I could give would be a junkie's guide to watching the video of the debate. More comments later.
The Herald finally prints Barbara Rofkar's letter in Thursday morning's paper - although Scott edited it down to take out some of the sting that Barbara directed at the Herald. She said it was a "racist cartoon" but Scott, of course, has her say "... a cartoon I believe is racist." There were quite a number of edits - which also deleted some of her words. I was provided with a copy of the original. The Herald misplaced the letter, delayed, lost it and finally printed it after Barbara continued to request it. I'd post the cartoon but the Herald has warned me about their stuff. It was run at the time the Herald was bragging about how there is no racism in Bellingham any more. They don't have a clue. The racism is in Bellingham and also in the pages of the Herald.
So, delay works again for the Herald. The cartoon was pulled from their website and you have probably long ago tossed out the paper from almost three weeks ago. Not much chance anyone will know what she is writing about.
Monday, Oct 1, 2007
Letters not printed in the Herald that seem to meet their criteria has been an issue for years. Now, answers are coming to light explaining why some letters do not get printed. There could well be more answers for why other letters have been skipped over the past few years.
Their email system has been rejecting emails as spam if they had certain benign differences from most email. Thus the letters editor Scott Ayers never receives some email as the Herald's computer system swallows them. This has been the case with letters from Tip Johnson. Tests this past week have revealed this and it could also affect other writers.
Then another letter Scott received he just thought was not for printing but rather was advice to the editors. How he could think that is ..... well, a question, since he is the letters editor. The writer, Barbara Rofkar, discovered this in a followup phone call with Scott. After waiting another week for the letter to print and not seeing it, I wrote Scott this morning asking about it. He replied that he was waiting for her to send in the letter again. ??? You know, I just don't think I'll pursue more questioning on that issue. Barbara has resubmitted it and we can look forward to reading her letter - real soon.
Scott has insisted in his blog that all qualifying letters are printed. Some writers have insisted that is not true. We now know the writers are right and Scott is wrong. So the question is - what other improbable scenarios are playing out to prevent qualified letters from being printed in the Herald. Or, how many other letters to the editor did Scott nor realize were intended for publication.