Our Right to Decide?

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Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 6:24 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, 11:29 am

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, 7:03 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, 7:17 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, 9:48 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, 8:06 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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Roosevelt Neighborhood Pleads for Left Turns

Wed, Apr 09, 2014, 8:07 am  //  Riley Sweeney

City pushes for Alabama Street improvements, residents speak out

3 comments; last on Apr 14, 2014


Sun, Apr 06, 2014, 3:29 pm  //  Guest writer

By Christopher Grannis: Wherein despite every effort and expense, citizens cannot make the City follow the law or work for neighborhoods

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Village Books

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

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Why commenting on the EIS in Comp Plan revisions for Cherry Point means demanding an EIS in the first place.

4 comments; last on Apr 13, 2014

Anatomy of a Development Part XII - Citizens Win Against University Ridge

Wed, Apr 02, 2014, 5:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Ambling University Development Group pulls out. University Ridge will not be built.

12 comments; last on Apr 06, 2014

Tell County To Expand Scope of EIS Review for Plants and Animals

Tue, Apr 01, 2014, 12:27 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Please help us protect county wildlife by ensuring that the scope of the EIS review is adequate. A sample scoping letter is included.


Public May Comment On EIS Scoping For County Comp. Plan Until April 7th

Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 1:23 am  //  Wendy Harris

The public has a week to comment on the scope of issues reviewed under the EIS.


My State of the Lake Report for 2014

Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 12:32 am  //  Wendy Harris

On March 26, 2014 the city and county provided their update and assessment on the status of Lake Whatcom. This is mine.

2 comments; last on Apr 01, 2014

County Considers Purchasing Toxic Property

Wed, Mar 19, 2014, 9:32 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley digs into the county's plan to buy the county morgue

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Propaganda Replaces Public Information:  An Analysis of the Lake Whatcom TDML Process

Sun, Mar 16, 2014, 11:52 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The public is not provided with a proposed plan or adequate information prior to the annual "state of the lake" meeting

4 comments; last on Mar 18, 2014

Mobile Slaughter

Sat, Mar 15, 2014, 12:11 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein there's a crackdown on growing plants, and plans to let slaughter run free

2 comments; last on Mar 16, 2014

Fukushima Radiation Found In Canada

Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 9:47 am  //  John Servais

Fukushima radiation has been found 20 miles from Whatcom County farmland along the Fraser River in British Columbia.

1 comments; last on Mar 17, 2014

Is ALEC Jr. Coming to Whatcom County or Bellingham Soon?

Wed, Mar 12, 2014, 7:28 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The infamous American Legislative Exchange Council plans to send its spawn to cities and counties throughout the U.S.

1 comments; last on Mar 24, 2014

Rep. Vincent Buys Appears to Break State Fundraising Laws

Tue, Mar 11, 2014, 10:24 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley catches State Rep. Vincent Buys for soliciting funds during session


County Hires GPT Permit Lead as Senior Planner

Mon, Mar 10, 2014, 9:51 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley digs into an unusual hiring decision at the County Planning Dept

1 comments; last on Mar 10, 2014

Whatcom Watch Editor Resigns

Sun, Mar 02, 2014, 2:22 pm  //  John Servais

The editor of the Whatcom Watch, Richard Jehn, has resigned effective today. Chalk up a victory for Craig Cole and Pacific International Terminals.

8 comments; last on Mar 05, 2014

Relevant Documents to Libel Threat

Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 8:29 pm  //  John Servais

The full text of Craig Cole's threatening letter of libel against the Whatcom Watch. And the emptiness of the threat.

16 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014

Action Alert for Tonight: Waterfront Wildlife and Habitat Not Being Protected as Promised

Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 3:33 pm  //  Wendy Harris

We were led to believe the city would review waterfront wildlife and habitat connectivity. It turns out that the city intends to focus only on nearshore fish.


Wendy Harris on Citizen Journalism

Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 12:16 am  //  Wendy Harris

Accepting the Paul deArmond award of citizen journalism on Feb 7, Wendh Harris gave this speech. We think it deserves its own post.


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Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 4:48 pm  //  John Servais

Craig Cole, the local contact for the proposed Cherry Point coal port has threatened the Whatcom Watch with a libel lawsuit.

6 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014

Do Changing Liquor and Marijuana Laws Affect DUIs

Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 7:26 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley digs through court data and discovers the real impact of privatization and legalization


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Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 9:35 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The mayor wants to amend a city law to increase flexibility for a GMA provision that should be used rarely, if ever at all.

3 comments; last on Feb 11, 2014

The Hidden Costs of Costco

Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 2:36 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Costco imposes indirect costs on our community that are as real and tangible as road construction expenses.

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Reid Boiler Works Burns Down

Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 9:13 am  //  John Servais

The old empty Reid Boiler Works industrial building in Fairhaven burned to the ground Saturday night.


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Mon, Feb 03, 2014, 5:30 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Professional and even college sports have morphed into a circus of corporate greed and the fleecing of the public.

3 comments; last on Mar 01, 2014

Have You Exceeded Your Right To Information?

Sat, Feb 01, 2014, 12:35 am  //  Wendy Harris

Filing a public record request could land a citizen in jail under a proposal reflected in a Herald opinion article.

2 comments; last on Feb 03, 2014

Wendy Harris Receives deArmond Award for Citizen Journalism

Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 6:18 am  //  Guest writer

Tim Johnson writes about the first recipient of the Paul deArmond Citizen Journalism award, Whatcom County writer Wendy Harris.

3 comments; last on Feb 08, 2014

Anatomy of a Development Part XI - The Doldrums at University Ridge

Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 5:14 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The developers of University Ridge have been silent since shortly after the hearing examiner's decision on 23 October last year. Will they walk?


The Marijuana Bowl

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Super Bowl ... Weed Bowl ... This bud's for you ... Bong Bowl ... Marijuana Bowl ... whatever. It is on!

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Port’s Alternative Marina Analysis a Scam

Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 2:19 pm  //  Guest writer

Do we actually need to say that we, as citizens, want accurate information from government officials?

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Guest writer Barbara Perry writes about Bellingham Parks refusal to allow motorized wheel chairs to recharge at public electrical outlets.

6 comments; last on Jan 03, 2014

Port Memo Addresses Marina Fraud Allegations

Fri, Dec 20, 2013, 3:56 pm  //  Wendy Harris

A Port of Bellingham internal memo tries, but fails, to justify changes in cost estimates for alternative marina sites.

5 comments; last on Dec 22, 2013

Lummi Influence Over the Waterfront Planning Process Continues to Grow

Tue, Dec 17, 2013, 12:21 am  //  Wendy Harris

Army Corps advised DOE that it will not issue a waterfront permit without Lummi approval

2 comments; last on Jan 13, 2014

Gary Jensen Not Running for State Senate

Mon, Dec 16, 2013, 12:30 pm  //  John Servais

Ferndale Mayor Gary Jensen has decided not to file for the 42nd state Senate seat currently held by Doug Ericksen.

5 comments; last on Dec 24, 2013

Larrabee School; Its Future

Mon, Dec 09, 2013, 12:24 pm  //  Guest writer

Barbara Perry writes about the closed nature of the Bellingham School Board on the future of the Larrabee School.

1 comments; last on Dec 15, 2013

Steal this Waterfront: Costs without Benefit

Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 8:23 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein the direct, indirect, hidden and lost opportunity costs make this a waterfront boondoggle of billions

3 comments; last on Dec 11, 2013

On Monday, City Council Votes “third and final” Approval of Waterfront Plan

Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 12:33 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Local activist calls on Bellingham City Council to table the unpopular waterfront plans and engage in meaningful public process

2 comments; last on Dec 08, 2013

Lecture on County Water Issues Draws Crowd

Fri, Dec 06, 2013, 11:03 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The county will be required to consider water quality and water quantity when planning rural growth.

3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2013

Video Exposes City Council Dysfunction on Waterfront Plan

Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 11:58 am  //  John Servais

The Political Junkie has posted a 3 minute video showing Bellingham City Council members explaining their idiocy for all of us to watch.

2 comments; last on Dec 06, 2013

The Bellingham “Riot” - Let’s Expand the Conversation

Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 5:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The post "riot" conversation is terribly lacking in several areas. We must expand the discussion or risk learning little from the experience.

3 comments; last on Dec 15, 2013

Cascadia Weekly Blasts Waterfront Plan

Wed, Dec 04, 2013, 10:53 am  //  John Servais

Bellingham City Council and Port of Bellingham finalize the waterfront plan. In his weekly Gristle, Tim Johnson blasts the corrupt public process.

4 comments; last on Dec 05, 2013

Waterfront Development Bonus Yet Another Bad Idea

Sat, Nov 30, 2013, 8:11 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The waterfront plan allows a development bonus for payments made to the Lake Whatcom land acquisition fund

1 comments; last on Dec 01, 2013

City and Port Ready To Act on Waterfront Plan

Fri, Nov 29, 2013, 9:43 pm  //  Wendy Harris

A number of important issues need to be resolved before waterfront planning is complete, but the city council and port commission are ready to act.

2 comments; last on Nov 30, 2013

Port Unable To Protect Public Safety

Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 9:01 pm  //  Wendy Harris

If the port can not construct the airport safely, should it be entrusted with dangerous waterfront cleanup work?


Walmart and McDonald’s - Partners in Institutionalized Cluelessness

Wed, Nov 20, 2013, 5:03 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The advice coming from Walmart and McDonald's to its low paid employees becomes more and more bizarre and inane.


Anatomy of a Development - Part X Appeals of the Hearing Examiner’s Decision

Tue, Nov 19, 2013, 5:35 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Ambling's motion to the hearing examiner for reconsideration was definitively rejected. The developer has not met the deadline for an appeal to the Superior Court


Smoking Gun: Fraud and Deception

Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 2:18 pm  //  Guest writer

In which we find the hidden core of the waterfront plan is rotten through and through

7 comments; last on Nov 21, 2013

County Releases EIS, Prepares to Purchase Jail Site

Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 10:59 am  //  Riley Sweeney

The county takes two big steps forward on the new jail, while still missing the point


Noballmacare and Setting the False Standard

Thu, Nov 14, 2013, 1:39 am  //  Tip Johnson

Dear Mr. President, There's a sucker born every minute, and two to take him.

7 comments; last on Nov 21, 2013

City Council Misled On Waterfront Planning

Wed, Nov 13, 2013, 3:16 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The city adminstration has been providing misleading/ incorrect information to the city council to avoid waterfront plan revisions.

1 comments; last on Nov 18, 2013

Election Analysis: What Happened with the Port Races?

Tue, Nov 12, 2013, 10:21 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley crunches the numbers on Renata and McAuley's races to find answers

2 comments; last on Nov 13, 2013

Puget Neighborhood Likely New Home for 1,300 Students

Tue, Nov 12, 2013, 5:16 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Puget Neighborhood will likely have in the immediate future 1,300 new rental units that will be marketed primarily to the student population.


Gloomy Fate For Waterfront Wildlife

Sat, Nov 09, 2013, 9:47 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The COB administration continues in its refusal to analyze waterfront wildlife issues, even though this is a prerequisite step in protecting wildlife from the impacts of development

3 comments; last on Nov 10, 2013

Election Results - November 2013

Tue, Nov 05, 2013, 8:21 pm  //  John Servais

With lots of outside county money flowing in to our local races, this election is weird. But real - and we county residents have spoken.

11 comments; last on Nov 09, 2013

Health Insurance Scams - Washington Not Spared

Mon, Nov 04, 2013, 9:55 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The call of the dollar speaks more loudly to health insurance companies than does the voice and well-being of the consumer, even here in Washington.

8 comments; last on Nov 06, 2013

Anatomy of a Development - Part IX BMC Rule of Three Thwarts Plans

Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 10:19 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Four bedroom dorm rooms have been nixed by the hearing examiner. University Ridge may be in trouble as a cash cow for Ambling Development of Georgia

3 comments; last on Nov 04, 2013

The Slaughterhouse Referendum - Citizens Opposing Widespread Slaughter (COWS)

Mon, Oct 28, 2013, 10:19 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein we discover why we exert our rights - and grab some more petitions before it's too late

3 comments; last on Nov 06, 2013

Dick’s Picks for City Council - Burr and Petree

Mon, Oct 28, 2013, 12:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Independent voters are for independent thinkers on the city council. Vote for Burr and Petree.


Boulevard Park Reopens

Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 7:36 pm  //  John Servais

Beach reconstruction is done at Boulevard Park on the Bellingham waterfront. Paths along shore are again open - and it looks good.

6 comments; last on Nov 01, 2013

Ken Bell and Renata for Port

Sun, Oct 20, 2013, 7:07 pm  //  John Servais

Ken Bell has my vote over Mike McAuley for port commissioner. And Renata Kowalczyk has it over Dan Robbins.

8 comments; last on Oct 30, 2013

Anatomy of a Development Proposal - Part VIII The 12 October Riot and University Ridge

Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 3:16 pm  //  Dick Conoboy

The development of University Ridge will replicate the student ghetto that fueled the riot on 12 October.

6 comments; last on Oct 25, 2013


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