About Tip Johnson

Tip Johnson is a longtime citizen interest advocate with a record of public achievement projects for good government and the environment. A lifelong student of government, Tip served two terms on the Bellingham City Council and has worked on many community boards and committees. He travelled with the Federal Transit Administration and Department of Commerce on mass transit trade missions in SE Asia and Africa before settling down to focus on keeping public interests at the fore of local government and the course of growth and development.

By: Tip Johnson (174)

Public Process - Lots of it (kind of),

or I lied (sort of!)

In the previous post I complained that the biggest rip-off in Whatcom County history was happening without even being discussed or making it into the news. Well, I lied. To

or I lied (sort of!)

In the previous post I complained that the biggest rip-off in Whatcom County history was happening without even being discussed or making it into the news. Well, I lied. To

or I lied (sort of!)

In the previous post I complained that the biggest rip-off in Whatcom County history was happening without even being discussed or making it into the news. Well, I lied. Today it is in the news, sort of:

The state Department of Ecology has scheduled a public hearing Tuesday on the draft cleanup study and environment impact reports for the Whatcom Waterway site. At the hearing, people can provide oral and written comments. The hearing is scheduled for 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Bellingham Municipal Court, 2014 C St. The public is encouraged to review the documents and comment to the department by Dec. 9.

We emphatically thank the Herald! Why? Because you probably wouldn't otherwise know about the hearing or the December 9th deadline for written comment.

We went to the website for "New Whatcom". The following information can be found there:

Two Department of Ecology public meetings to hear public comment on the plan to clean up the Whatcom Waterway: 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Thursday, November 30th at Bellingham Municipal Court, 2014 C Street

They curiously mention two meetings, but list only one. Also, it is well known to denizens of the political cesspool that "meetings" do not a "public hearing" make. Public hearings are designed to accept testimony and create a public record. Meetings are merely a chance for citizens to vent while officials pretend to listen. They do not create a legal record for a public proceeding as does a public hearing.

We looked into the link on the New Whatcom site for "Public Involvement", but found only a recitation of all the meetings they have already had. Regardless of whether the public has the information they need to actually participate in the process, officials will at least be able to say they had a lot of meetings.

Incredibly, we found another link to "calendar" lower down in the body of the text. With amazement, we found one of two public meetings listed, but no information on the public hearing or the December 9th deadline. Hmmm.

Undaunted, considering ourselves resourceful as all get-out, we followed links from that page to the Port's website. After all, it's really their project. On the homepage, we found a link to "Latest Development News". Here there was, once again, nothing on the public hearing, nothing on the public meeting and nothing on the December 9th deadline. However, there is a tremendous volume of materials regarding the successful lawsuit against the citizen-sponsored "Healthy Bay Initiative". Port officials seem proud of their ability to thwart the public's will by preventing them from voting on it. Oh boy, that's democratic!

Even more remarkably, there was a link to a Department of Ecology document with information on one of the public meetings mentioned at the New Whatcom website, a sidebar with the December 9th deadline, but nothing on the public hearing.

Without discouragement, we found another link, under "Waterfront Redevelopment" that pointed to "Whatcom Waterway". Since that is the subject of the hearing, we must have struck paydirt by now!

Nope! Here there is even more about suing citizens, including copies of the legal complaints, the summons, responses from the Port and declarations by their Environmental Director. The public hearing and meetings would be long over by the time you finished reading it all!

Now, feeling as if we must be doing something wrong, we looked very closely. Aha! Once again, lower down in the bottom of the text, it says, "To learn more about master planning efforts for this area, click here." In typical government run-around style, this merely takes us back to the New Whatcom site whence we came.

Now we are feeling a little put out. We've spent quite a bit of time without even starting to read the relevant documents (plus this post is getting longer than I like). We've run out of options - except the Department of Ecology (sometimes referred to as the Department of Apology for their habit of issuing permits to pollute - like G.P.'s mercury cell facility - and their usual failure to require compliance with regulations - like G.P. taking a hike at the public's expense).

Finally, paydirt!

The following information is posted there:

PUBLIC HEARING TIME and LOCATION
Tuesday, November 28, 2006; 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM (Public Hearing), Bellingham Municipal Court, 2014 C Street, Bellingham, WA

DOCUMENTS FOR PUBLIC REVIEW
The draft Supplemental RI/FS and draft Supplemental EIS are available for review at the following locations:
* Bellingham Public Library, Main Branch, 210 Central Ave., (360) 676-6860, Bellingham
* WA Department of Ecology, Bellingham Field Office, 1204 Railroad Ave. #200, (360) 738- 6250, Bellingham
* WA Department of Ecology, Northwest Regional Office, 3190 160th Ave. SE, (425) 649-7000, Bellevue, WA 98008
* Ecology's web site: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/sites/whatcom/ww.htm

Taking the above link to Ecology's website, we finally found reference to both public meetings mentioned on the New Whatcom site. One of them passed on October 26th. The other is scheduled for:

November 30th, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., Bellingham Municipal Court, 2014 C Street, Bellingham, WA

It's a bit remarkable that none of it is available on either local project website. Almost like they really don't want folks to come. But, finally, here is where you can find all the information you need to make a sensible comment! But you better get busy, because - look - there's quite a bit to consider!

If it is starting to look like a snow job, or aptly for our weather, a veritable blizzard, remember, this is how our government employees legitimize their fine salaries and benefits. What's missing is how we assure that the taxes we spend are working for us - ask the thousands of citizens that wanted to vote on whether to clean it up vs covering it up. Oh well, here comes the snowstorm:

* Fact Sheet
* Site Map
* Draft Supplemental Remedial Investigation (large file ~ 4mb)
Note: the following sections have been separated for your convenience in downloading the document:
o Table of Contents
o Chapter 1-3
o Chapter 3a (continued)
o Chapters 4-5
o Chapter 5a (continued)
o Chapters 6-9
o Draft Supplemental Remedial Investigation Appendices
+ Due to size limitations, the appendices are only available at the repositories (listed in the Fact Sheet). The appendices are also available on CD from Ecology. For a copy, please e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or telephone her at 425.649.7272.

o Draft Supplemental Feasibility Study (large file ~ 5mb)
Note: the following sections have been separated for your convenience in downloading the document:
+ Table of Contents
+ Chapter 1
+ Chapter 2
+ Chapters 3-4
+ Chapters 5-6
+ Chapter 6a (continued)
+ Chapters 7-10
+ Draft Supplemental Feasibility Study Appendices:
# Due to size limitations, the appendices are only available at the repositories (listed in the Fact Sheet). The appendices are also available on CD from Ecology. For a copy, please e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or telephone her at 425.649.7272.

o Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (large file ~4mb)
Note: the following sections have been separated for your convenience in downloading the document:
+ Cover Letter
+ Fact Sheet
+ Table of Contents
+ Chapter 1
+ Chapter 1 (continued)
+ Chapters 2-3
+ Chapter 3a (continued)
+ Chapter 3b (continued)
+ Chapter 4
+ Chapters 5-6
+ Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement Appendices:
# Due to size limitations, the appendices are only available at the repositories (listed in the Fact Sheet). The appendices are also available on CD from Ecology. For a copy, please e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or telephone her at 425.649.7272.

Pleasant reading!

About Tip Johnson

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Member since Jan 11, 2008

Tip Johnson is a longtime citizen interest advocate with a record of public achievement projects for good government and the environment. A lifelong student of government, Tip served two terms [...]

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Public Process - Lots of it (kind of),

By Tip JohnsonOn Nov 27, 2006

or I lied (sort of!)

In the previous post I complained that the biggest rip-off in Whatcom County history was happening without even being discussed or making it into the news. Well, I lied. To

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

By Tip JohnsonOn Nov 26, 2006

The good? We are no longer spewing forty+ pounds of mercury vapor every day into the local atmosphere. We are no longer dumping 20 to 40 tons of polluted solid waste into our bay, ravines and gravel p

Long Run

By Tip JohnsonOn Nov 19, 2006

Milton Friedman died at 94 years of age last week. Friedman was the maverick economist who implemented monetarist policies beginning with the administrations of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. As

Torturous topics

By Tip JohnsonOn Nov 19, 2006

While we’re being proud to be Americans, don’t forget that George Bush just pushed through legislation that makes it legal for our boys at Abu Ghraib to have tortured and makes it legal for them to ke

Welcome to America!

By Tip JohnsonOn Nov 19, 2006

Protesting and dissent is no longer supervised by the police. It is actively escalated to violence, punished and prosecuted. This snippet is about a fellow rotting in jail as the result of his journal

Let them vote on it?

By Tip JohnsonOn Nov 19, 2006

Zetta Bracher, President of the local Democratic Women’s Club, has an idea for getting consensus on our “new direction” in Iraq.

When it became apparent that there were no weapons of mass destr

Hot Button

By Tip JohnsonOn Nov 16, 2006

The war in Iraq is widely regarded to have been the “hot button” issue of the last election. I don’t buy it. Americans seem to like a good fight. After all, we get into a lot of them. The problem with

Plenty more to flush

By Tip JohnsonOn Nov 12, 2006

Bellingham’s new, old mayor, Tim Douglas, got off to a great running start at his new job by dealing quickly and firmly with an important issue that threatened to embarrass the City forever - the form

Killers or Healers?

By Tip JohnsonOn Nov 09, 2006

Congratulations, Americans. That was certainly worth voting for! Voters thoroughly routing the entrenched Neo-Con administration will help restore our world image, so badly damaged since re-electing t

Electile Dysfunction

By Tip JohnsonOn Nov 06, 2006

Nope. I didn’t make it up. It’s from the subtitle of a book by Steve Bhaerman, under the pen name Swami Beyondananda. I have to admire the guy. At least he can laugh about it. But Americans should do

The 16% Solution

By Tip JohnsonOn Nov 05, 2006

Results from the 17th year of a poll routinely taken by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News show that only 16 percent approve of the job Congress is doing. 52 percent of those polled said they’d pref

Swirling Logo

By Tip JohnsonOn Nov 05, 2006

Hopefully the City’s new swirling logo will flush itself before it ends up glued on vehicles and emblazoned on letterhead. It’s horrible, but that’s only half the story. And we will probably never get

The Truth Fairy

By Tip JohnsonOn Nov 04, 2006

Heading into the last days of this election season, George Bush and his Neo-Con Republicans have been strumming a familiar tune to promote their candidates. Republicans, they say, will

1) P

My name is Tip Johnson.

By Tip JohnsonOn Nov 03, 2006

Gentle readers,

My name is Tip Johnson. The usual editor of this publication has asked me to fill in for a bit while he is busy with other matters. Some of you have already written, following h