Our Right to Decide?

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Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 7:24 pm  //  Guest writer

Guest Writer David Maas is a retired professor of political science and a steering committee member of the No Coal! Political Action Committee. For more information about the organization, go online to coal-free-bellingham.org


In collecting signatures to place the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights on the November ballot, I occasionally was asked why No Coal was involved in such a pointless effort to get local citizens involved in the coal transport issue, a dispute that can only be resolved by the county, state, and federal governments.

The critics are right.  Our constitution prohibits cities and towns from interfering in decisions about fracking for natural gas reserves, or mining for shale oil, or building transcontinental pipelines, or building coal terminals and offshore drilling rigs.  Therefore, Peabody Energy and SSA Marine can build a coal terminal at Cherry Point that threatens our health, our emergency services, our water quality, our parks, our air quality, and our future, and there is nothing we can do to overturn the plan.  As Superior Court Judge Charles Snyder ruled last Friday, the Community Bill of Rights Initiative exceeds the authority of the city.

We now ask a fundamental question:  Why is an incorporated government like the city of Bellingham powerless to stop the development of a private project that will reshape our community?  There are three answers.  One important consideration is the U.S. Constitution and Congress’s power over interstate commerce, like the transportation of coal from Montana and Wyoming to Western Washington.  Where did this come from?   Moses certainly didn’t bring this commandment to us from Mount Sinai.   No, the origins were more mundane.  Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Edmund Rudolph, and nine other men met in Annapolis Maryland in September 1787 to “remedy the defects of the federal government.”  At the top of their list of complaints was the interference of states in trade, commerce, and indebtedness.  They passed a resolution calling for a convention of state delegates in Philadelphia the following May to “revise the Articles of Confederation.” As we know, the framers turned their backs on popular consent, tossed the Articles, and created a national constitution.  Can you imagine this occurring today, say a small group getting together in Omaha, passing a motion to meet later with some other acquaintances, and composing a new founding document, one that might even be democratic?  Why not? Look at the Declaration of Independence.

Another constraint on local influence is state government.  The national constitution is silent about local governance; but between the states there were two interpretations in the nineteenth century:  Thomas Cooley, chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, presumed that “local government is a matter of absolute right, and the state cannot take it away.”  In contrast, John F. Dillon, the chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, in striking down a Clinton County injunction against the construction of a railroad through their land, claimed municipalities “owe their origin to, and derive their powers and rights wholly from, the (state) legislature.  It breathes into them the breath of life, without which they cannot exist.  As it creates, so may it destroy.  If it may destroy, it may abridge and control.” Dillon was described as one who greatly distrusted local governments and local officials, thinking their conduct was “unwise and extravagant.”  More telling, though, was that Judge Dillon was a general or advisory counsel to the Union Pacific Railroad, the Missouri Pacific, the Texas Pacific, the Manhattan Elevated, and the estate of the railroad magnate, Jay Gould.  Guess which interpretation prevailed?

 Dillon’s thinking was right in line with the corporate attack on community and state responsibilities led by railroad barons and Stephen Field, the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court and later an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Field’s close ties to Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker, the founders of the Central and Southern Pacific railroads, was well known. The Southern Pacific Railroad was threatening many of the counties it ran through by refusing to pay taxes.  The counties of San Mateo and Santa Clara sued Southern Pacific for the revenue they were owed. The San Mateo case was thrown out and the railroad prevailed in the Santa Clara County challenge.  According to one historian, Field’s decisions trampled logic and a core democratic practice...the legislature’s right to determine taxes.”  The railroads prevailed and corporate personhood was born. 

Today, corporate constitutional protections exceed those of “human citizens.”  For example, UBS, Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo recently paid $673 million for a bond-auctioning scam that robbed millions of pensioners, retirees, and other investors of untold billions; another example is the trillions of toxic assets the Bank of America transferred to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, so the taxpayers can cover any losses; still another example is IBM’s cooperation with Nazi leaders in Germany during WW II.  Can you imagine a gambler transferring his wagers to a government insurer?  Or imagine an individual stealing billions, or helping a genocidal regime, and eluding imprisonment?

In the face of federal, state, and corporation limits, how can communities gain more influence over developments like the building of the Gateway Pacific Terminal, education, or many other important issues?  The Constitution offers two choices: elections and petitions.  We could elect more local-minded candidates, but unfortunately, voting and campaigning are separated from legislative struggles and policy-making.  We are no longer pubic citizens; now we are called customers, clients, or in the words of Presidents Obama and Bush, folks.  Our collective might and responsibilities are diluted.  Few of us can afford to run for public office.  Winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives costs at least $1.5 million; for the Senate $8-$10 million.  Money is the mother’s milk of politics, but only a small percentage of people help finance campaigns, political parties, or other organizations.  Many of us don’t understand the important issues of the day because of a derelict media, empty campaign messages, limited debates, irresponsible and skewed spending by Super PACs, and the failure of leaders to fully disclose who or what is spending billions on buying our elections.

Then there is the First Amendment “right to petition to redress our grievances.”   Here we have the right to form or join a group and lobby representatives, senators, and administrators.   Most of us, though, don’t belong to a political interest group, nor is there an organization, out of the thousands that exist, that speaks for the American public.  We used to be a nation of joiners.  Concerned parents were active in Parent-Teacher Associations; farmers joined the National Grange, workers belonged to unions, friends gathered with other Masons, Odd Fellows, or Elks.  People could find solidarity in these groups and learn the skills of expression and organization.  They could also influence the powerful, like when the American Legion opposed FDR’s meager WW II veteran’s benefits and convinced Congress to pass the GI Bill which supported the education of millions of returning soldiers.

Since the 1950s these membership associations have faded and been replaced by advocacy and public interest groups which depend on corporate funding, donations, and professional managers.  They lobby Congressional and presidential offices, they litigate, and they publish occasional reports.  The Sierra Club is typical.  Their mission is to educate the public about environmental issues, lobby, and campaign for candidates that agree with their values.  Memberships consist of writing a check, occasionally signing a petition, and voting for candidates backed by the Club’s board.  Is this democracy in action?  Who decides which issues are important?  Who communicates with policy-makers?  Who understands the political process or, even more unlikely, the budget process?

Groups care about elections because they want people in office who support them.  But more of their money and muscle is spent on lobbying.  Lobbyists spent $3.5 billion in 2010 and $3.3 billion in 2011.  Business organizations have always dominated American politics, but the growth of corporate lobbying over the last thirty years is unsurpassed; motivated by the supposed assault on free enterprise from college campuses, pulpits, media, intellectuals and politicians in the 1960s, businesses fought back.  The number of corporate public affairs offices in Washington, D.C. went from 100 in 1968 to over 600 today; there were 2,500 registered lobbyists in 1982, in 2011 there were 12,646.  Business has a 16 to 1 representation advantage over organizations that might oppose them, like unions, environmentalists, and consumer advocates.  Seven of the ten largest lobbying spenders between 1998 and 2012 are either private corporations or trade associations that represent them in Washington; they include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, General Electric, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PHARMA), Northrup Grumman, and Exxon Mobil.

The politics and rhetoric that surrounds the building of the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point illuminates and confuses our understanding of party divisions, ideological differences, representation, and traditional lobbying.  Peabody Energy, the company that wants to ship coal from mines in Montana and Wyoming, is part of a coal industry group that is represented by 268 lobbyists and the National Mining Association, a trade group that is the “voice of mining companies.”  The company is one of twelve energy companies that spends a million dollars or more every year on lobbying mostly key Republicans and a few Democrats on the Senate Energy and Resources Committee, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.  This year they are trying to expand domestic production and soften regulations.

Peabody Energy is also part of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which is an alliance of coal companies (BHP Billiton is the world’s largest, and Peabody Energy is the biggest coal company in the U.S.), railroads (Union Pacific and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe are the largest in the U.S.), and electric utilities.  The coalition has spent millions on promoting clean coal and opposing environmental regulations and legislation related to climate change and mine safety.   In the Coalition’s $38 million clean coal campaign they sponsored a CNN presidential debate, they canvassed all of the debates with literature and human billboards, they targeted ads in key primary states and districts, and they engaged in Astroturf lobbying through staged interviews and forged letters from phantom constituents.  They have been aided in their efforts by a revolving door of former Congress members and staffers lobbying for the mining interests.  For example, one of the key voices for Peabody Energy in Washington, D.C. is Richard Gephardt, the former Democratic Speaker of the House from Missouri. There is also movement between the companies and federal regulatory agencies, like between the mining industry and the Mine Safety and Health Administration that enforces safety standards.  The justification for this movement is that the regulators need the expertise of industry experts, but critics claim such coziness leads to a lax enforcement regime that put’s miner’s lives at risk.

This disconnect between the public and the powerful is evident when Congress passes tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy, or when the president misleads us about threats from Iraq, or in the size of the loans given to floundering banks and investments houses on Wall Street.  What is most revealing is the relation between income and Congressional responsiveness: the poor have virtually no voice in national decision-making.  This should surprise no one; what is startling is that Congress does not listen to the middle class either.  Middle class demands or ideas are only heeded when combined with the wishes of the affluent.   As one researcher concluded,  “Most middle-income Americans think that public officials do not care much about the preferences of ‘people like me;’ sadly, studies suggest they may be right.”

So, we ask our critics, what are our alternatives?  For us there is only one choice: to come together as a community not only to oppose unwanted projects, but to improve our schools, rebuild our local economies, and enhance our living environment.  Our ancestors, who freed the slaves, enabled all to vote, and advanced our civil rights, have shown us the value of political movements.  No doubt charges of senseless opposition and unlawful acts were leveled against the abolitionists and suffragettes in the nineteenth century, and civil rights activists in the twentieth; fortunately they were not deterred.  Nor will we abandon our belief that a community should have a voice in decisions like the proposed renovation of the BNSF train corridor, the construction of a coal terminal at Cherry Point, and the dramatic increase in commercial traffic.

Suzanne Ravet  //  Tue, Aug 21, 2012, 12:29 pm

Thank you for this wonderful article.  It really explains how we became so powerless to enact necessary change in this country.  Suzanne

Tip Johnson  //  Tue, Aug 21, 2012, 8:03 pm

What if instead of superseding the authority of the US Constitution, the ballot measure had been about making coal ports a prohibited use in Whatcom County, restricted to certain locations like we already do for nudie bars and rendering plants?  We could restrict it to Newhalem or something.

The imposition of powerlessness is not unique to state and federal levels.  It also originates locally, as when the City fakes it’s available land numbers to adopt unnecessary policies for infill and upzones in stable family neighborhoods (see Larry’s recent post).  These upzones are never considered for neighborhoods like Edgemore, underscoring the validity of David’s observation that “the poor have virtually no voice in national decision-making”.  This is especially true at the local level.

Similarly, the Port is willing to saddle the City ratebase with untold millions in additional costs by ignoring the utility of G-P’s upland treatment facility to build a marina, leaving rate payers to replace the capacity (I’ve been harping on it for years).  They ignore facts, stifle debate, limit allowable testimony and even ignore the opinion of the state to accomplish their selfish aim at the public’s expense.

And that is the rub.  Local governments have an abhorrent record of doing the right thing. They have a long history of abusing their own, especially the poor, but anyone not in favor.  If local governments had been willing to do the right thing, federal imposition of civil rights would not have been needed.

Meanwhile, anyone who rocks the boat can be assured of difficulty finding work, or will hear their employers get discouraging phone calls from locally important people.  Yes, this happens.

However, even as we acknowledge the inherent deficiencies of local government, we must also admit that our communities lack any meaningful tools for cultivating public involvement in community self-determination - that holy grail of Democracy. This is what the coal port is teaching many who have not already been aware of the lack through decades of largely futile public interest advocacy at any level of government.

It is these tools that we must imagine, invent and apply.  The Mondragons did it in the Basque region of Spain and transformed their communities in thirty years from the poorest in western Europe to some of the most prosperous.  They did it with principles that would have landed Americans in front of an embarrassingly famous congressional committee of the late 1940s through the ‘60s.

As resources dwindle, populations increase, mass displacements and crop failures occur, we may find a sense of local control more and more necessary.  We really need to explore, invent and apply better tools to the organization of our communities or we may get to re-experience the mill town, company store mentality of our earlier days.  We may also get run over roughshod by some corporate interest, but the risks are roughly equivalent.

Tip Johnson  //  Tue, Aug 21, 2012, 8:17 pm

And just another counter point about local control:  Remember when SSA cut the trees down according to their understanding of an invalid permit and then made up a bunch of cockamamie BS about geo-technical work? 

Guess what?  The trees weren’t left lying around, implying they were gathered up and marketed.

Anyone else doing that without a Forest Practice Permit would , and have, suffered six year moratoriums on development of their property.  This has been applied to farmers for clearing blackberries and scrub alder around pastures. 

SSA cut down and sold acres of large Alder (incidentally worth about $5,000 per truckload).  Nobody slapped a moratorium on them.  That would have killed their project.  Instead, every conceivable local functionary wiggled and wriggled and slimed their way through the most ridiculous explanations to keep the project alive.

Sometimes going local is worse.  Go figure.

Dick Conoboy  //  Thu, Aug 23, 2012, 10:48 am

In a July article in the on-line news website,  Truthdig, columnist Chris Hedges writes about Crazy Horse and how he stood up to the thievery of the commercial exploiters the of the time and the American government that aided and abetted the robbery.  The parallels with the present should not be lost on us.  Hedges quotes John Locke who says “Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience.”  This is being played out across the US in many cities on a micro level.  Surely our experience with this coal terminal qualifies.  Yet our local officials ask that we work within the law, a law that we did not create and one that favors only the corporate bosses whose fortunes paid for favorable legislation in the first place.  By being nice and following the “rules”, we unwittingly buy into this corporate culture and suffer the inevitable and terrible consequences.  You can read the Hedges’ article entitled “Time to Get Crazy” here:  + Link

Todd Granger  //  Sun, Aug 26, 2012, 9:06 am

But David,
Justice Harlan wrote Santa Clara…the fence case…and he also wrote a more famous dissent, in Mr. Plessy’s railroad case; what is the 14th Amendment, and the real Bill of Right’s?

“In the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. “Our constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. . .The arbitrary separation of citizens on the basis of race, while they are on a public highway, is a badge of servitude wholly inconsistent with the civil freedom and the equality before the law established by the Constitution. It cannot be justified upon any legal grounds.”
Futhermore, argued Harlan, the decision would poison relations between the races.
“What can more certainly arouse race hate, what more certainly create and perpetuate a feeling of distrust between these races, than state enactments, which, in fact, proceed on the ground that colored citizens are so inferior and degraded that they cannot be allowed to sit in public coaches occupied by white citizens? That, as all will admit, is the real meaning of such legislation.”

At the age of 32, Marshall won his first U.S. Supreme Court case,  his most famous case as a lawyer was Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), the case in which the Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” in public education, as established by Plessy v. Ferguson, was not applicable to public education because it could never be truly equal. In total, Marshall won 29 out of the 32 cases he argued before the Supreme Court. Marshall use this dissent in his arguments at the Supreme Court’s “Brown v. Board of Education???

“I have herd of a real or imaginary system in China, of a civilized Nation, supposed to inhibit foreign commerce, and of the recommendation of that system, though not by government to this Nation- on this subject I have enquired, and the result has been that no such system exists. That nation studiously avoids foreign treaties, yet for a century and a half she has encouraged foreign commerce with Japan, Batavia, and all other ports in the East Indies. But what of China, admitting she limits the commerce of her subjects to her own provinces? Herempire contains a third or a fourth of the whole human race! A greater number of people than Europe and America combined…”

From the defects in “New England”...page 11…

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The Last Lessons of Dr. David T. Mason

Sat, Mar 21, 2015, 11:16 am  //  Guest writer

Kamalla Kaur worked with David Mason on his biographical materials and offers this tribute to his illustrious life.

2 comments; last on Mar 23, 2015

County Meth Ordinance Sent Back to Committee

Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 5:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The Whatcom County Council has sent discussion on changing the meth ordinance back to the Public Works, Health and Safety Committee


Village Books

In historic Fairhaven. Take Exit 250 from I-5.

Robyn du Pre` Has Passed On

Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 1:06 pm  //  John Servais

Add your thoughts and remembrances. Robyn du Pre` was a stalwart and true environmental advocate for Bellingham and Whatcom County. She died this week.

9 comments; last on Mar 23, 2015

How the Party Treats Jeb and Hillary Tells You Everything

Thu, Feb 26, 2015, 10:39 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley shares some insight into the national political parties

5 comments; last on Mar 09, 2015

Dealing with Meth Contamination - A Race to the Bottom in Whatcom County

Wed, Feb 25, 2015, 6:31 am  //  Dick Conoboy

In a hearing, possibly on 3 March, the Whatcom County Council will consider an ordinance changing the rules for contaminated meth use sites.

1 comments; last on Feb 27, 2015

Rent-to-Own Scam on Tenants

Mon, Feb 09, 2015, 6:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Not all rent-to-own propositions are an unwise method to buy a home but some are schemes to rip off the unsuspecting tenant.


The Hidden Election

Mon, Feb 02, 2015, 9:34 am  //  Guest writer

No ballot mailed to you. You must request a ballot for voting in the Whatcom Conservation District election. Deadline to apply is Feb 9. By Barbara Perry


Little Hong Kong by the Bay

Thu, Jan 29, 2015, 10:56 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein Bellingham's billion dollar boondoggle is revisited

4 comments; last on Mar 03, 2015

A Call to Action to Support the Lummi Nation

Tue, Jan 27, 2015, 9:55 am  //  Terry Wechsler

The Lummi requested on Jan. 5, 2015, that the federal government, through the Army Corps of Engineers, honor Art. V of the Treaty of Point Elliott and deny…

1 comments; last on Feb 04, 2015

The Pickett House Museum

Sun, Jan 25, 2015, 12:32 pm  //  Guest writer

Adventures of George Pickett in the Pacific Northwest Wilderness

5 comments; last on Jan 28, 2015

Call to Action—Shell Anacortes Crude by Rail Proposal

Sat, Jan 24, 2015, 3:15 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

The fourth area refinery crude by rail infrastructure project to receive permits without benefit of environmental review is being appealed, and provides an opportunity to make precedent.


Riley Sweeney to Receive Paul deArmond Award

Fri, Jan 23, 2015, 12:13 am  //  John Servais

The second annual award for Citizen Journalism will be to The Political Junkie himself who runs the Sweeney Politics blog, Riley Sweeney.

2 comments; last on Jan 24, 2015

The Annexation Games

Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 3:07 am  //  Guest writer

Guest article by Sandra Alfers. Water and sewer connections drive unwanted annexation. Trickle Creek homeowners are muzzled by a "no protest zone."

1 comments; last on Jan 20, 2015

A Walk With Hope

Sun, Jan 18, 2015, 10:14 pm  //  Guest writer

Ellen Murphy gives us a poem for this Martin Luther King day of remembrance.

2 comments; last on Jan 21, 2015

Dead or Alive: How do you like your herring?

Sun, Jan 18, 2015, 9:15 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein the ridiculous is ridiculed

5 comments; last on Jan 21, 2015

Lodging Goals for Whatcom County

Thu, Jan 08, 2015, 2:54 pm  //  Guest writer

Tani Sutley guest writes about the vacation rentals situation and presents goals for the county council to consider for improving our rural neighborhoods.

1 comments; last on Jan 10, 2015

Water is Valuable

Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 1:16 am  //  Guest writer

Duuhhh! Try doing without it. Marian Beddill provides an overview of our rural Whatcom County water situation and the efforts to find fair solutions.

3 comments; last on Jan 08, 2015

Riley’s Top 5 Whatcom Political Stories of 2014

Wed, Dec 24, 2014, 1:23 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

The Herald gave us their top 10 stories, Riley gives you his top 5


Coal Ship Collisions Study Is Released

Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 5:04 pm  //  John Servais

One part of the environmental study for the proposed Cherry Point mega coal terminal has been completed and released. It deals with ship collisions - they call it…

2 comments; last on Dec 22, 2014

Twas the Week Before Christmas…

Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 12:26 pm  //  John Servais

Bellingham Public Works shows how tone deaf they can be to business concerns. They insisted on street work that takes away up to 80 parking spaces in Fairhaven…


Bellingham City Council Approves Rental Inspections

Tue, Dec 16, 2014, 3:51 pm  //  Dick Conoboy

7-0! City Council Unanimous. Rentals Will Be Inspected in Bellingham. Thanks go to WWU students for speaking out to city council.

4 comments; last on Dec 18, 2014

Council Moving Rapidly on Rental Registration and Inspections

Thu, Dec 11, 2014, 5:05 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The Bellingham City Council has added an inspection component to the registration-only rental ordinance proposal of Councilmember Murphy

4 comments; last on Dec 16, 2014

New Year’s Eve and Consumer Fireworks - Ban in Effect

Wed, Dec 10, 2014, 6:37 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The ban on consumer fireworks that took effect last summer is valid all year, even New Year's Eve

1 comments; last on Dec 11, 2014

Ship Breaks Loose at Port of Bellingham

Tue, Dec 09, 2014, 1:31 pm  //  John Servais

The Horizon Lines ship - the many year resident of the Port of Bellingham - broke loose this morning due to failure of some system. A few photos.

3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2014

Whatcom County and the New Sharing Economy

Tue, Dec 09, 2014, 2:25 am  //  Guest writer

Tani Sutley writes of how unregulated vacation rentals are invading the Lake Whatcom watershed. She urges action before the Planning Commission meeting on 11 December.

4 comments; last on Jan 03, 2015

War and Peace

Wed, Dec 03, 2014, 2:20 pm  //  Richard Lewis

Poet Richard Lewis reflects on Elizabeth Warren

3 comments; last on Dec 07, 2014

Prosecutor McEachran Calls Racism Charge “Preposterous”

Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 4:27 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein Whatcom's Klan heritage may be oozing from some cracks

8 comments; last on Dec 06, 2014

Where are the persuadable voters in the 42nd District?

Sat, Nov 22, 2014, 3:48 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley dives into the data with precinct maps and historical perspectives


Campus View Apartment Project Officially Defunct

Thu, Nov 20, 2014, 9:15 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Campus Crest Communities, Inc. has officially offered for sale the Lincoln St. property that was to be a student apartment development.

2 comments; last on Nov 23, 2014

Howard Harris Dies - More Testimonials Added

Wed, Nov 12, 2014, 1:51 pm  //  John Servais

Updated Nov 12. Howard Harris, the founder of the Bellingham silent peace vigil at the Federal Building in Bellingham, has died. He and Rosemary were leaders in our…


A Veterans Day Note

Tue, Nov 11, 2014, 2:34 pm  //  John Servais

On this Veterans Day, a note about how vets need our government to step up - as has never been done. And a personal note on the power…

3 comments; last on Nov 13, 2014

Lincoln Street Apartment Development May Be Abandoned

Thu, Nov 06, 2014, 6:53 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The Campus Crest apartment complex may be the "victim" of a corporate restructuring plan.

3 comments; last on Nov 10, 2014

Doug Ericksen’s Tax Lien

Tue, Nov 04, 2014, 12:28 pm  //  John Servais

While smearing Seth Fleetwood over a common tax arrangement, we discover Doug Ericksen also has a benign tax lien - one he denied.

6 comments; last on Nov 11, 2014

A Recent GOP History in Not-So-Terse-Verse

Mon, Nov 03, 2014, 8:14 pm  //  Richard Lewis

Poet Richard Lewis weighs in on the Tea Party values



Sat, Nov 01, 2014, 12:29 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Or why to vote for Nyima, the dog, for County Prosecutor

4 comments; last on Nov 03, 2014

Election Recommendations

Thu, Oct 30, 2014, 2:18 am  //  John Servais

A link to Riley's Political Junkie for excellent recommendations - and a few thoughts of my own.

1 comments; last on Oct 30, 2014

Something Gristly to Chew On: The rest of the story -

Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 11:01 am  //  Tip Johnson

It's just how things roll in Whatcom County

5 comments; last on Oct 26, 2014

Point Roberts vs. the FCC:  Modern David and Goliath

Wed, Oct 22, 2014, 2:44 pm  //  John Lesow

Update Oct 22: John Lesow has posted a comment with considerable more information on this issue.

1 comments; last on Oct 22, 2014

Tune in TONIGHT for Political Comedy

Tue, Oct 14, 2014, 6:36 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley does a local political comedy show

1 comments; last on Oct 15, 2014

Bham Planning Director - Rick Sepler Chosen

Wed, Oct 08, 2014, 6:24 pm  //  John Servais

Three final candidates for Bellingham Planning Director spoke today at a cozy 'meet and greet' of government employees and developers.

6 comments; last on Oct 11, 2014

The Business of Government

Sat, Oct 04, 2014, 12:23 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein we see that sometimes government can do what business can't.

9 comments; last on Oct 07, 2014

Rental Conditions -  A Real Estate Inspector’s View

Fri, Oct 03, 2014, 10:26 am  //  Dick Conoboy

An experienced real estate inspector provides a window to the dangeroous conditions found in rentals in Bellingham

3 comments; last on Oct 05, 2014

Few Surprises at the Tea Party Debate

Thu, Oct 02, 2014, 2:33 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley files a full report of the Tea Party debate for State Leg candidates

1 comments; last on Oct 04, 2014

Satpal Sidhu, Candidate for State Representative, 42nd District

Tue, Sep 30, 2014, 8:00 am  //  Guest writer

Wherein a Fulbright scholar, professional engineer and successful business owner files for public office

4 comments; last on Oct 02, 2014

Hickory, Dickory, Docketing…Yet Another Spot Rezone

Mon, Sep 22, 2014, 5:07 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Last Thursday, the Planning Commission voted to recommend the docketing of the spot rezone of 801 Samish from Residential Single to Commerical Planned (non-retail)

6 comments; last on Oct 03, 2014

Samish Way Experience - Drug Dealing Dangers?

Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 10:26 am  //  John Servais

We post a disturbing report of a personal encounter along Samish Way, with the permission of John Stark, who experienced it.

2 comments; last on Sep 17, 2014

Who Will Be Appointed to Lehman’s City Council Seat?

Tue, Sep 09, 2014, 8:21 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley and John share the short list of who might replace Cathy Lehman on the Bellingham city council on January 5.

8 comments; last on Sep 10, 2014

An Imminent Threat:  The State Plans for CBR Disaster While Counties Punt

Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 11:48 am  //  Terry Wechsler

While the state spends hundreds of thousands of dollars defining risks of crude by rail, Skagit County finds no significant adverse impacts of a crude-by-rail proposal.

1 comments; last on Aug 28, 2014

You can’t fight city hall: city hall doesn’t fight fair

Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 2:06 pm  //  Guest writer

Patrick McKee of the Sunnyland Neighborhood guest-writes about the August 11 City Council slap-dash zoning changes.

2 comments; last on Aug 23, 2014

Good Friends and Neighbors:  What $54 Million Doesn’t Buy, Part 2

Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 4:54 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

Not content with causing massive inconvenience, BNSF is now literally dumping on county residents.

10 comments; last on Aug 26, 2014

Devil In the Details

Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 3:48 pm  //  Guest writer

Judith Green of the Sunnyland Neighborhood guest writes this brief summary of what went wrong with the planning last week.

1 comments; last on Aug 22, 2014

Good Friends and Neighbors:  What $54 Million Doesn’t Buy

Fri, Aug 15, 2014, 7:12 am  //  Terry Wechsler

A massive upgrade of the Cascade [rail] Corridor has left residents stranded and the sheriff asking Washington, DC, to intervene.

7 comments; last on Sep 02, 2014

Reliable Prosperity

Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 3:13 pm  //  Guest writer

Sandy Robson guest writes of the need for real prosperity at Cherry Point, not a destructive short term coal port that destroys the fishing grounds.

5 comments; last on Oct 02, 2014

Fleetwood versus Ericksen: What Happened in Round One?

Tue, Aug 12, 2014, 10:52 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Some Context for the Primary Results


The Rule of Law - Bellingham Style

Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 11:31 pm  //  John Servais

Bellingham City Council abruptly changes zoning codes to force Planning Department plan on Sunnyland residents.

7 comments; last on Aug 14, 2014

Final Updated Election Results

Fri, Aug 08, 2014, 10:10 am  //  John Servais

Updated Wed evening. The Tuesday evening 8:20 pm Auditor report on the election is in.

5 comments; last on Aug 08, 2014

Councilmember Murphy’s Proposed Rental Ordinance Is Deeply Flawed

Fri, Aug 01, 2014, 8:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Councilmember Murphy's proposal is based on a complaint-based rental ordinance from Tacoma, demonstrated to do little for the health and safety of tenants.

14 comments; last on Oct 01, 2014

Trial by Fire:  A Rising Tide of Civil Disobedience

Fri, Aug 01, 2014, 4:47 am  //  Terry Wechsler

Carefully planned actions are rolling across the state to make the point that it's not OK to expose us to risks associated with CBR.

7 comments; last on Aug 04, 2014

Northwest Citizen Releases Polling of Whatcom Voters

Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 11:40 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Northwest Citizen has conducted a phone poll of likely voters, with some surprising results!

9 comments; last on Jul 29, 2014

Plan Commission & Samish Neighbors Bypassed on Rezone Docketing

Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 7:52 am  //  Dick Conoboy

In contravention of the Bellingham Municipal Code, the City Council will consider on 4 August a last minute docketing request that ignores the Planning Commission and Samish Neighborhood.

1 comments; last on Jul 30, 2014


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