Bellingham Community Rights vs. Corporate RightsPermalink +
Fri, Aug 17, 2012, 10:21 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.
- - - - -
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“The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.”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.
Sat, Mar 21, 2015, 11:16 am // Guest writerKamalla Kaur worked with David Mason on his biographical materials and offers this tribute to his illustrious life.
2 comments; last on Mar 23, 2015
Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 5:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe Whatcom County Council has sent discussion on changing the meth ordinance back to the Public Works, Health and Safety Committee
Paper Dreams in Fairhaven
Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 1:06 pm // John ServaisAdd 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
Thu, Feb 26, 2015, 10:39 am // Riley SweeneyRiley shares some insight into the national political parties
5 comments; last on Mar 09, 2015
Wed, Feb 25, 2015, 6:31 am // Dick ConoboyIn 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
Mon, Feb 09, 2015, 6:00 am // Dick ConoboyNot all rent-to-own propositions are an unwise method to buy a home but some are schemes to rip off the unsuspecting tenant.
Mon, Feb 02, 2015, 9:34 am // Guest writerNo 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
Thu, Jan 29, 2015, 10:56 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein Bellingham's billion dollar boondoggle is revisited
4 comments; last on Mar 03, 2015
Tue, Jan 27, 2015, 9:55 am // Terry WechslerThe 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
Sun, Jan 25, 2015, 12:32 pm // Guest writerAdventures of George Pickett in the Pacific Northwest Wilderness
5 comments; last on Jan 28, 2015
Sat, Jan 24, 2015, 3:15 pm // Terry WechslerThe 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.
Fri, Jan 23, 2015, 12:13 am // John ServaisThe 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
Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 3:07 am // Guest writerGuest 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
Sun, Jan 18, 2015, 10:14 pm // Guest writerEllen Murphy gives us a poem for this Martin Luther King day of remembrance.
2 comments; last on Jan 21, 2015
Sun, Jan 18, 2015, 9:15 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein the ridiculous is ridiculed
5 comments; last on Jan 21, 2015
Thu, Jan 08, 2015, 2:54 pm // Guest writerTani 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
Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 1:16 am // Guest writerDuuhhh! 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
Wed, Dec 24, 2014, 1:23 pm // Riley SweeneyThe Herald gave us their top 10 stories, Riley gives you his top 5
Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 5:04 pm // John ServaisOne 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
Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 12:26 pm // John ServaisBellingham 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…
Tue, Dec 16, 2014, 3:51 pm // Dick Conoboy7-0! 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
Thu, Dec 11, 2014, 5:05 am // Dick ConoboyThe 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
Wed, Dec 10, 2014, 6:37 am // Dick ConoboyThe 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
Tue, Dec 09, 2014, 1:31 pm // John ServaisThe 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
Tue, Dec 09, 2014, 2:25 am // Guest writerTani 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
Wed, Dec 03, 2014, 2:20 pm // Richard LewisPoet Richard Lewis reflects on Elizabeth Warren
3 comments; last on Dec 07, 2014
Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 4:27 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein Whatcom's Klan heritage may be oozing from some cracks
8 comments; last on Dec 06, 2014
Sat, Nov 22, 2014, 3:48 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley dives into the data with precinct maps and historical perspectives
Thu, Nov 20, 2014, 9:15 am // Dick ConoboyCampus 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
Wed, Nov 12, 2014, 1:51 pm // John ServaisUpdated 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…
Tue, Nov 11, 2014, 2:34 pm // John ServaisOn 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
Thu, Nov 06, 2014, 6:53 am // Dick ConoboyThe Campus Crest apartment complex may be the "victim" of a corporate restructuring plan.
3 comments; last on Nov 10, 2014
Tue, Nov 04, 2014, 12:28 pm // John ServaisWhile 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
Mon, Nov 03, 2014, 8:14 pm // Richard LewisPoet Richard Lewis weighs in on the Tea Party values
Sat, Nov 01, 2014, 12:29 pm // Tip JohnsonOr why to vote for Nyima, the dog, for County Prosecutor
4 comments; last on Nov 03, 2014
Thu, Oct 30, 2014, 2:18 am // John ServaisA link to Riley's Political Junkie for excellent recommendations - and a few thoughts of my own.
1 comments; last on Oct 30, 2014
Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 11:01 am // Tip JohnsonIt's just how things roll in Whatcom County
5 comments; last on Oct 26, 2014
Wed, Oct 22, 2014, 2:44 pm // John LesowUpdate Oct 22: John Lesow has posted a comment with considerable more information on this issue.
1 comments; last on Oct 22, 2014
Tue, Oct 14, 2014, 6:36 am // Riley SweeneyRiley does a local political comedy show
1 comments; last on Oct 15, 2014
Wed, Oct 08, 2014, 6:24 pm // John ServaisThree 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
Sat, Oct 04, 2014, 12:23 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein we see that sometimes government can do what business can't.
9 comments; last on Oct 07, 2014
Fri, Oct 03, 2014, 10:26 am // Dick ConoboyAn experienced real estate inspector provides a window to the dangeroous conditions found in rentals in Bellingham
3 comments; last on Oct 05, 2014
Thu, Oct 02, 2014, 2:33 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley files a full report of the Tea Party debate for State Leg candidates
1 comments; last on Oct 04, 2014
Tue, Sep 30, 2014, 8:00 am // Guest writerWherein a Fulbright scholar, professional engineer and successful business owner files for public office
4 comments; last on Oct 02, 2014
Mon, Sep 22, 2014, 5:07 am // Dick ConoboyLast 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
Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 10:26 am // John ServaisWe 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
Tue, Sep 09, 2014, 8:21 am // Riley SweeneyRiley 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
Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 11:48 am // Terry WechslerWhile 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
Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 2:06 pm // Guest writerPatrick McKee of the Sunnyland Neighborhood guest-writes about the August 11 City Council slap-dash zoning changes.
2 comments; last on Aug 23, 2014
Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 4:54 pm // Terry WechslerNot content with causing massive inconvenience, BNSF is now literally dumping on county residents.
10 comments; last on Aug 26, 2014
Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 3:48 pm // Guest writerJudith 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
Fri, Aug 15, 2014, 7:12 am // Terry WechslerA 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
Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 3:13 pm // Guest writerSandy 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
Tue, Aug 12, 2014, 10:52 am // Riley SweeneySome Context for the Primary Results
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 11:31 pm // John ServaisBellingham City Council abruptly changes zoning codes to force Planning Department plan on Sunnyland residents.
7 comments; last on Aug 14, 2014
Fri, Aug 08, 2014, 10:10 am // John ServaisUpdated Wed evening. The Tuesday evening 8:20 pm Auditor report on the election is in.
5 comments; last on Aug 08, 2014
Fri, Aug 01, 2014, 8:00 am // Dick ConoboyCouncilmember 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
Fri, Aug 01, 2014, 4:47 am // Terry WechslerCarefully 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
Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 11:40 am // Riley SweeneyNorthwest Citizen has conducted a phone poll of likely voters, with some surprising results!
9 comments; last on Jul 29, 2014
Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 7:52 am // Dick ConoboyIn 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
Election InfoCounty election results
State election results
Coal, Oil & Trains
Community Wise Bellingham
Powder River Basin R. C.
Local Blogs & NewsBellingham Herald
Bham Herald Politics Blog
Bham Politics & Economics
Friends of Whatcom
Get Whatcom Planning
League of Women Voters
Western Front - WWU
Local CausesChuckanut Community Forest
City Club of Bellingham
Futurewise - Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
N. Cascades Audubon
NW Holocaust Center
Reduce Jet Noise
Salish Sea Org.
Save the Granary Building
WA Conservation Voters
Whatcom Peace & Justice
Port of Bellingham
State election results
US - The White House
WA State Access
WA State Elections
WA State Legislature
Weather & ClimateCliff Mass Weather Blog
Nat Hurricane Center
Two day forecast
Watts Up With That? - climate
Edge of Sports
Famous Internet Skiers
Good Web SitesAl-Jazeera online
Foreign Policy in Focus
Innocence Project, The
Intrnational Herald Tribune
Julia Ioffe/New Republic
Middle East Times
New American Century
Paul Krugman - economics
Personal bio info
Portland Indy Media
Project Vote Smart
Stand for the Troops
Talking Points Memo
The Crisis Papers
War and Piece
NwCitizen 1995 - 2007Early Northwest Citizen
Quiet, Offline or DeadBellingham Police Activity
Citizens of Bellingham
Cordata & Meridian
Facebook Port Reform
N. Sound Conservancy
No Leaky Buckets
Protect Bellingham Parks
The American Telegraph