Barry Bowen & WhatcomWatch

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Whatcom Watch Opinion Piece is a Smear
Sunday, Oct 24

Al Hanners has his facts wrong.

My political friend, Al Hanners, has a short opinion piece in theOctober issue of Whatcom Watch where he strongly attacks Barry Bowenand lauds Barbara Brenner. Al cites some county council incident toshow how Barry is against public participation at council meetings.The article made no sense to me, so I called Al. It turns outthat Al did not witness the incident. Indeed, he did not want to tellme his source, other than to say it was a very reliable person. Itold Al that my research was showing a different picture and I wastrying to give him a chance to either clarify his position or backoff. He did neither. So, here goes.

Last March, Barbara Brenner's Public Works committee held apublic hearing for her friend Ben Hinkle and his request that thecouncil forbid Federal Agencies from acting in Whatcom County withoutthe approval of the Sheriff. Ben is a militia leader. Barry attendedthe meeting and listened to Ben's testimony. Barry also covered hisface with his clip board during some of Ben's more ridiculousmoments. After Ben had testified, Barry spoke, saying that if thecouncil was going to waste its valuable time listening to proposalslike Ben's that then they should also listen to proposals from theFlat Earth Society.

For that, Barry is being labeled as against public participationin government. Al Hanners was duped by some supporter of Barbara's.Keep in mind that Barbara and other council members have repeatedlytold us how busy they are. This hearing cost us taxpayers real money- staff time, county attorney's time, etc. She did it as a favor toher friend Ben Hinkle, a leader of the extreme right wing militiamovement in Whatcom County. His proposal was nutty. Extreme. Againstthe law - Federal law, State law and County law. Crackers.

Barry did not try "to cut off public testimony" as Al wrote. Hecommented on the stupidity of the councli holding hearings on deadend proposals when the council has many far more important mattersthat it is ignoring or going slow on. We can all cite many of our ownexamples. Barry did not make any effort to stop Ben Hinkle fromtestifying.

I know Al did not mean to write a smear piece. But, he should havechecked his facts. He did not. As he told me, he relied on one source- a person he said was totally reliable.

I asked Barry Bowen to provide his perspective on this.Here it is.

Special Interests V. PublicInterest
By Barry Bowen

In the last issue of Whatcom Watch before the election I wasblasted with an editorial lauding Barbara Brenner as a fighter forthe public interest and indicating I -- Barry Bowen -- would be atool of special interests.

There are no more issues of Whatcom Watch that will appear beforethe election. I am offering some comments here. Apologies in advanceif you have no interest, but this is an important charge -- at leastto me -- even if you vote for the incumbent.

The only evidence presented for this thesis is that I have beenendorsed by so many different people, and even some conservativeshave put up my yard sign. That is all true.

What is not true is that I have fudged my message to variousgroups, or promised favors to anyone, other than my wife and kids, towhom I owe big favors after the election. I have told every interestgroup the same thing -- where I stand -- and if they endorse me Iwelcome that.

I figure that if I can be endorsed by Pete Kremen AND Frank James,by Mark Asmundson AND John Servais, by Dean Brett AND Dave McEachran,by Rainbow and Conservation Voters AND the Maberry's without changingmy message, that is a good thing.

Unlike Barbara Brenner I never embraced the pure property rightsmovement and its anti-managed growth banner. I never flip-flopped onPioneer County, And I certainly did not -- and would not -- devote acounty hearing to consider the propaganda of the Whatcom Countymilitia movement.

Vote as your conscience dictates, but do not make your decisionupon skewed facts.

Thanks for reading.
Barry Bowen

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