Bellingham Community Rights vs. Corporate RightsPermalink +
Fri, Aug 17, 2012, 9:21 am // Guest writer
Guest writer Suzanne Ravet is a member of Coal-Free Bellingham, the sponsors of the No Coal! initiative and Bellingham Community Bill of Rights. A resident of Birch Bay, Suzanne is concerned - for herself and her child - about health issues associated with a nearby coal terminal the size of Gateway Pacific. Suzanne founded Sustainable Communities ALL Over Puget Sound (SCALLOPS) in Enumclaw / Buckley and won an award from the Pierce County Workforce Development Council for her advocacy for youth and labor pre-apprenticehip program in schools.
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Why I support the Coal Free Bellingham Community Bill of Rights:
“The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.” Abraham Lincoln
I believe this quote sums up one of the main purposes of the CFB Community Bill of Rights.
We are currently in a situation where elected officials are required to uphold laws that have been manipulated and molded by ‘piles of money,’ not people, for the past 100+ years. Many, if not most, people didn’t sign Prop 2 because they believed it would be enacted into law; they did it to protest the current structure of law, and in the hope of changing that structure in the future.
The uproar surrounding Prop 2 exposes the depth of prejudice and absolute inability of people to protect their community and property. I hear more talk about the history of railroad tyranny (especially from right wing people) than ever before. I hear labor people talk about how we can’t stop the terminal from coming, so we might as well ‘pick our poison.’
The second step, after knowledge, is the willingness to shatter our existing framework and change it to something that is actually humane. People are moving closer to that every day. Personally, I’ve been called names on the Bellingham Herald website and been verbally attacked while tabling. In both situations the end results were good. People came out of the crowd to my defense, which called more attention to the issue, and inspired more desire to learn why I was there and willing to endure the assaults of others.
I’m just an average person, one who has spent some time and energy to try to figure out what is going on in this society. And I believe when average folks have the courage to challenge the law, our culture gets the necessary momentum to shift.
Finally, I’ve heard more conversation from retired people, doctors, teachers, accountants, students, etc. about a willingness to tie themselves to the tracks, especially after the judge declared, in essence, that we don’t even have the right to free speech. That’s powerful stuff. When we let go of fear, hope, and constructs that no longer fit, amazing things happen.
Alas, part of me still wonders if there is a secondary objective we have yet to learn about, because these people/corporations are never transparent. A Community Bill of Rights covers any future intent yet to be uncovered. Expose away CFB….
2. Sustainability Law:
“Let us have the candor to acknowledge that what we call “the economy” or “the free market” is less and less distinguishable from warfare.” Wendell Berry
Transition Whatcom is an indispensable group focused on localization. I admire the work every person in that group is doing. In reality, the work Transition Whatcom is doing will make our very survival possible, should a major crisis happen. However, current law makes what Transition Whatcom is doing illegal.
A culture based on economic nationalization and globalization will never be sustainable or support human life, and we all know it. There’s a major drought in this country right now. For our very survival, we must be able to provide food and water locally. Unfortunately, we will never be able to truly secure, nor keep safe, our food and water under the current national and global laws.
Although I’m a good person and don’t mind helping others in a crisis, I certainly don’t want the Nestle Corporation buying up our water, selling it to Arizona, and then forcing us to purchase water from another city. I’ve already lived through this very real scenario. When I lived in Enumclaw, WA, the Nestle Co. wanted our spring water. Nestle courted the mayor for a year in secret; the mayor didn’t even tell the city council. The decision to lease the water to Nestle came out in the paper with a decision to be made by the city council within the week. Of course there were wonderful ads in the paper about a new sports complex, revenue, jobs, etc. Nestle touted themselves as a transparent and community-centered company. Nestle products were on sale, cheap, out front at the two local grocery stores. It was an amazing and skillful production. Fortunately, the folks in Enumclaw rose up and stopped this craziness. From there, Nestle worked on the other towns in South King County and Pierce County. Unfortunately, city public utility officials told me that Nestle can still set up a water bottling plant using municipal water in Enumclaw (just not the spring water they had intended to lease).
I hear that Anacortes is now in this same situation. Sometimes, I wonder if we are just a big experiment for Goldman Sachs – to see how much money it will take to brainwash and immobilize the general public. If we are to protect our home, we must have laws that support sustainability, because it is currently illegal to protect our community. The CBR does just that.
3. Claiming What We Want
“Happy for us that when we find our constitutions defective and insufficient to secure the happiness of our people, we can assemble with all the coolness of philosophers and set it to rights, while every other nation on earth must have recourse to arms to amend or to restore their constitutions.”—Thomas Jefferson to C. W. F. Dumas, 1787. ME 6:295, Papers 12:113
What I like most about the CFB Community Bill of Rights is that it claims what we want. We all know what we don’t want, but somehow we lack the courage and responsibility to claim what we do want.
U.S. law claims to be in place to prevent injustice, but it is doing a poor job. The three components of the initiative buttress and support one another. Claiming what we want:
1) Ban coal trains (issue of safety)
2) Subordinate corporate rights to community rights (We can’t ban coal trains unless we institute this step because current laws give corporations more power than living, breathing people.)
3) Give the environment rights (This is essential, otherwise every community can do whatever it wants, including implement unjust laws. The intention of the initiative is to claim more rights regarding safety and security -- not less – and to stop an injustice.
These three work beautifully together. Some folks say, “What about communities who might want to ban such things as women’s right to vote?” That is a fear-based response lacking in imagination and inspiration. We can maintain our federal civil laws and current regulatory systems while increasing our local rights to safety and security. In fact, our forefathers, per the above quote, were aware that a rigid and stagnant constitution was insufficient. CFB challenges us to determine what we want and put that into law.
Some say it is other people's responsibility to change the law. But change doesn’t come from the top down, it comes from the bottom up: Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, Fredrick Douglas, and the list goes on…. They didn’t wake up one morning and say, “I wish somebody with more power would do the right thing.” They got up every day and did the morally right thing with the knowledge they were working for future generations.
Who knows what the outcome of Prop 2 may be? It’s possible that 10, 100, 1,000 more communities will rise up and claim what they want, too, driving us to a place of real change regarding laws that protect our safety and security. In fact, that is already happening.
Prop 2 is a brilliant examination and voyage into the potential for a utopian future and livable planet. We deserve so much better than we are getting and it’s time to claim it. Real change always begins with struggle and effort as communities rise, then eventually something seems to shift from the top down. Prop 2 is that first-stage, root struggle and investigation.
4. The Cost of Coercing a Community:
“I think we’re facing a very strong, almost revolutionary movement to try to get off oil worldwide, and it creates a lot of passion and drive in those revolutionaries that are trying to change the environment in which we work.” Enbridge CEO, Patrick Daniel, regarding the Tar Sands opposition
The recent coalition of big business for ‘Terminals = Jobs’ in the Pacific Northwest is scrambling and desperate. Look at their advertisements on TV, their mailers, corporate sponsored yard signs, hired PR guy, door-to-door paid canvassers, and video at the recent city council meeting. How much money have they spent on this already? The reality for these corporations is that they are shelling out big, big money on public relations, only because they must.
I encourge you to welcome CFB (and all other groups fighting coal) today, tomorrow, next year, the year after, and so on – as corporate power will be required to pour more and more and more into their forlorn and desolate attempts to persuade a community to buy into its’ own demise and ruin. No group fighting the impacts of coal is going away, in fact the very struggle makes us all stronger, more committed, and more forward thinking.
The above quote regarding tar sands could easily apply to the coal situation in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, many anti-coal ‘sleeping giants’ along the train route from Montana to Bellingham have yet to weigh in. This intricate web of coal opposition, including regulatory, economic, public opinion, corporate power, and/or nonviolent civil disobedience, weaves a solid and resilient impediment to those who desire to destroy our community for their greed and profit.
The CBR may be a tactic, but it supports and binds a broader strategy. I encourage our officials to let it run its due course as we watch these parasitic corporations scramble and squander more and more of their capital.
Sun, Mar 02, 2014, 2:22 pm // John ServaisThe 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
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 8:29 pm // John ServaisThe full text of Craig Cole's threatening letter of libel against the Whatcom Watch. And the emptiness of the threat.
14 comments; last on Mar 04, 2014
Paper Dreams in Fairhaven
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 3:33 pm // Wendy HarrisWe 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.
Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 12:16 am // Wendy HarrisAccepting the Paul deArmond award of citizen journalism on Feb 7, Wendh Harris gave this speech. We think it deserves its own post.
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 4:48 pm // John ServaisCraig Cole, the local contact for the proposed Cherry Point coal port has threatened the Whatcom Watch with a libel lawsuit.
5 comments; last on Mar 08, 2014
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 7:26 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs through court data and discovers the real impact of privatization and legalization
Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 9:35 pm // Wendy HarrisThe 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
Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 2:36 pm // Wendy HarrisCostco imposes indirect costs on our community that are as real and tangible as road construction expenses.
1 comments; last on Feb 13, 2014
Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 9:13 am // John ServaisThe old empty Reid Boiler Works industrial building in Fairhaven burned to the ground Saturday night.
Mon, Feb 03, 2014, 5:30 am // Dick ConoboyProfessional 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
Sat, Feb 01, 2014, 12:35 am // Wendy HarrisFiling 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
Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 6:18 am // Guest writerTim 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
Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 5:14 am // Dick ConoboyThe developers of University Ridge have been silent since shortly after the hearing examiner's decision on 23 October last year. Will they walk?
Sun, Jan 19, 2014, 8:39 pm // John ServaisSuper Bowl ... Weed Bowl ... This bud's for you ... Bong Bowl ... Marijuana Bowl ... whatever. It is on!
1 comments; last on Jan 20, 2014
Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 2:19 pm // Guest writerDo we actually need to say that we, as citizens, want accurate information from government officials?
1 comments; last on Jan 14, 2014
Fri, Dec 27, 2013, 4:00 am // Guest writerGuest 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
Fri, Dec 20, 2013, 3:56 pm // Wendy HarrisA 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
Tue, Dec 17, 2013, 12:21 am // Wendy HarrisArmy Corps advised DOE that it will not issue a waterfront permit without Lummi approval
2 comments; last on Jan 13, 2014
Mon, Dec 16, 2013, 12:30 pm // John ServaisFerndale 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
Mon, Dec 09, 2013, 12:24 pm // Guest writerBarbara 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
Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 8:23 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein the direct, indirect, hidden and lost opportunity costs make this a waterfront boondoggle of billions
3 comments; last on Dec 11, 2013
Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 12:33 pm // Wendy HarrisLocal 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
Fri, Dec 06, 2013, 11:03 pm // Wendy HarrisThe county will be required to consider water quality and water quantity when planning rural growth.
3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2013
Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 11:58 am // John ServaisThe 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
Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 5:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe 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
Wed, Dec 04, 2013, 10:53 am // John ServaisBellingham 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
Sat, Nov 30, 2013, 8:11 pm // Wendy HarrisThe waterfront plan allows a development bonus for payments made to the Lake Whatcom land acquisition fund
1 comments; last on Dec 01, 2013
Fri, Nov 29, 2013, 9:43 pm // Wendy HarrisA 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
Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 9:01 pm // Wendy HarrisIf the port can not construct the airport safely, should it be entrusted with dangerous waterfront cleanup work?
Wed, Nov 20, 2013, 5:03 am // Dick ConoboyThe advice coming from Walmart and McDonald's to its low paid employees becomes more and more bizarre and inane.
Tue, Nov 19, 2013, 5:35 am // Dick ConoboyAmbling'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
Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 2:18 pm // Guest writerIn which we find the hidden core of the waterfront plan is rotten through and through
7 comments; last on Nov 21, 2013
Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 10:59 am // Riley SweeneyThe county takes two big steps forward on the new jail, while still missing the point
Thu, Nov 14, 2013, 1:39 am // Tip JohnsonDear Mr. President, There's a sucker born every minute, and two to take him.
7 comments; last on Nov 21, 2013
Wed, Nov 13, 2013, 3:16 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city adminstration has been providing misleading/ incorrect information to the city council to avoid waterfront plan revisions.
1 comments; last on Nov 18, 2013
Tue, Nov 12, 2013, 10:21 am // Riley SweeneyRiley crunches the numbers on Renata and McAuley's races to find answers
2 comments; last on Nov 13, 2013
Tue, Nov 12, 2013, 5:16 am // Dick ConoboyPuget Neighborhood will likely have in the immediate future 1,300 new rental units that will be marketed primarily to the student population.
Sat, Nov 09, 2013, 9:47 pm // Wendy HarrisThe 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
Tue, Nov 05, 2013, 8:21 pm // John ServaisWith 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
Mon, Nov 04, 2013, 9:55 am // Dick ConoboyThe 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
Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 10:19 am // Dick ConoboyFour 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
Mon, Oct 28, 2013, 10:19 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein we discover why we exert our rights - and grab some more petitions before it's too late
3 comments; last on Nov 06, 2013
Mon, Oct 28, 2013, 12:00 am // Dick ConoboyIndependent voters are for independent thinkers on the city council. Vote for Burr and Petree.
Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 7:36 pm // John ServaisBeach 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
Sun, Oct 20, 2013, 7:07 pm // John ServaisKen 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
Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 3:16 pm // Dick ConoboyThe development of University Ridge will replicate the student ghetto that fueled the riot on 12 October.
6 comments; last on Oct 25, 2013
Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 2:46 pm // Wendy HarrisRequesting waterfront handouts for the Overwater Walkway while proclaiming autonomy from further public review is unjustifiable.
2 comments; last on Oct 16, 2013
Tue, Oct 08, 2013, 2:22 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city staff considers the overwater walkway a done deal before official approval or resolution of treaty right conflicts
4 comments; last on Oct 16, 2013
Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 10:19 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city administration asserts that there is no gap in waterplant plant and animal analysis
Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 10:01 pm // Wendy HarrisBellingham is holding an open house to introduce the public to its habitat restoration master plan, despite being at a preliminary draft stage
3 comments; last on Oct 04, 2013
Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 5:40 am // Riley SweeneyRiley uncovers how the Coal Industry is funding conservative candidates in Whatcom County
11 comments; last on Oct 03, 2013
Sat, Sep 28, 2013, 5:05 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city and port have not addressed wildlife impacts from waterfront development and this should be done before a waterfront plan is enacted.
Sat, Sep 28, 2013, 2:20 pm // John ServaisAs the right wing radicals seek to shut down our national government this week, we need to push back with common sense.
8 comments; last on Oct 01, 2013
Fri, Sep 20, 2013, 7:09 am // Dick ConoboyHearing held on 11 September. Comment period extended 10 days. Effects on home owners already manifest.
8 comments; last on Sep 22, 2013
Thu, Sep 19, 2013, 6:08 am // Riley SweeneyRiley examines who is donating to which candidates
Mon, Sep 09, 2013, 12:07 am // Wendy HarrisThe staff will be explaining the public's concerns, but the public is not allowed to testify.
Fri, Sep 06, 2013, 2:52 pm // Wendy HarrisElected officials continue to rely on inaccurate and misleading reports by the city and port staff regarding waterfront development.
Wed, Sep 04, 2013, 8:37 am // John ServaisAn attempt at linking to one or more writers who can help us make sense of going to war with Syria. An alternative to Kerry-Obama.
Wed, Sep 04, 2013, 12:36 am // John ServaisContacting Rick Larsen and Susan Delbene is actually a viable citizen exercise just now. Tell them to vote NO on bombing Syria.
1 comments; last on Sep 04, 2013
Sat, Aug 31, 2013, 2:10 pm // John ServaisSaturday afternoon - and a rally is taking place in downtown Bellingham against bombing Syria. Riley Sweeny and his Political Junkie site cover it.
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