I read with interest a recent letter to the editor by Kay Warner. What Ms. Warner doesn’t understand about the current problems hounding the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) would fill an encyclopedia, and her suggested remedies would only add insult to the ongoing injuries already inflicted on the workers, most of whom are doing the best they can.
Several years ago, the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration passed a law requiring the postal service to fully fund their pension system so far into the future that they are putting money aside for people who aren’t even old enough to work there.
The goal was not to ensure retirement benefits and old age pensions but to destroy the USPS’ ability to provide the service they do for an affordable rate, thus causing the collapse of the USPS and with it the destruction of the postal workers’ union.
This has caused huge financial problems within USPS, spraying red ink on their balance sheet for as far as the eye can see. In response, USPS financial managers have been cutting everything they can to try and reduce the gap between their postage income, which actually covers their operating costs just fine, and the newly added obligation to set aside billions of dollars they don’t have.
The fact that the local postmaster is doing labor in a so-called closed shop union work environment and the union is not raising holy heck is telling. The USPS is sinking, and it’s all hands on deck. Workers are over-worked, hours and positions are being cut and we routinely hear about efforts to end Saturday delivery as a way to cut costs. You’d have a poor attitude too if you worked in this environment.
So we could take Ms. Warner’s advice and call up the USPS to complain about the poor attitude of the people on the front line who are getting their teeth kicked in by congress, upper management and unhappy customers, or we could call our members of congress and tell them to end the ridiculous requirement of funding retirement pensions for people too young to work.
The post office grounds look lovely. Need I say more?
I guess we should thank the traffic control folks for allowing all of us to enjoy the freedom of living here in America and the Blaine area. You see people enjoying the freedom of running red lights, speeding and not using their turn signals, just to name a few violations, every day.
I used to be surprised if I ever saw someone run a red light, now I fully expect them to. It used to be look left, right, left, before crossing an intersection. Now I look left, right, left, right, left constantly when driving anywhere.
If you’re going the speed limit on our highways and byways, you’d better hold on to your doors because you’ll get them blown off by everyone speeding past, and they’re not all out-of-state plates on those vehicles.
Turn signals have obviously become outdated on most vehicles from the lack of use that you see.
The semis on the interstate are either in a big hurry to get in line to cross the border or have been in line up way too long and now have to hurry to make up time on their way down south.
I am proud to be an American and enjoy the freedom that it provides. I just hope I get to use that freedom and that I don’t get T-boned at the next intersection I go through.
My family moved to Blaine four years ago to enjoy country living and a small-town community. We enjoy Marine Park and the handful of shops and cafes. A bookstore would be a great addition. There certainly are enough empty buildings downtown to accommodate more retail.
Having a background in retail I understand the strain in these uncertain economic times. I’m not sure having an Amtrak stop in Blaine would bring in many Canadians since most of them seem to head home with a car full of groceries and gas cans. Like the Canadians, I take my large vehicle to Bellingham to stock up at warehouse stores, so taking the train south would not be practical for shopping. It might work for commuters or the occasional tourist.
Some of the benefits of the downtown area are free parking, no crowds at the gardener’s market and no waiting at restaurants. I enjoy the waterfront shopping in La Conner and the unusual shops in Fairhaven, but with growth come traffic and crowds. I would like to see Blaine stay small and current. Edaleen Dairy is a new fresh place for the community to gather. It’s nice to get an ice cream or coffee and walk around downtown or along the marina.
Anticipating the addition of a playground at Marine Park reminds me of the scene at Boulevard Park in Bellingham with children playing, parents visiting, folks playing volleyball and Frisbee and people walking their dogs. Now if only we had a pedestrian bridge across the water so Semiahmoo folks could walk or bicycle across the bridge to our downtown area. It seems a little over the top to spend so much on a playground since it caters to a small age group. A safe place to bicycle would nice for all ages.
The library is continually offering activities for all ages, the community/senior center is eventful, and the PAC has fun entertainment. We have a variety of places to eat, wonderful parks and several annual events. Blaine is a thriving little town.
Tourism provides over 5,000 jobs in Whatcom County. Birch Bay parks, hotels and restaurants account for some of those. Another 2,300 jobs come from fishing, fish processing, boat building and repair. I don’t know how many jobs are farm-dependent but the number is significant. Farmers and fish rely on clean, reliable water for survival, as do we all.
The proposed 640-acre Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) at Cherry Point will employ 257 people. GPT’s permit application to the Whatcom County PUD grants a daily average 5.33 million gallons of Nooksack River water until 2042. Water will be sprayed on the 2.5 miles of open coal piles, preventing dust from blowing onto Birch Bay homes and BP Refinery instrumentation. The highest demand for water will be in summer when farmers, fish and homeowners are most dependent on the already stressed Nooksack source.
More than 8,500 people reside in Birch Bay year-round with a summer population up to 24,000. Eighteen coal trains, each 1.5 miles long, will enter and leave Birch Bay and Custer daily, along with one or two oil trains. We are presently adjusting to the echo noise of oil trains, but it would become a 24/7 din with coal trains.
Modern coal ships are over 1,000 feet long and will share Cherry Point with oil tankers. Herring beds, fishermen, salmon and orcas won’t survive the daily arrival of foreign ships with invasive species carried on hulls and in ballast water or escaping coal toxins.
New business grows steadily between the Bellingham Airport and Ferndale. Blaine added border crossing, dairy, supply and freight-dependent jobs. Whatcom County is growing new jobs. GPT will cost existing jobs in fishing, tourism, farming and home values.
GPT proponents try to fool us into thinking the coal export terminal would be harmless; they say it wouldn’t hurt our environment. The ads and spokesmen say GPT would be “state-of-the-art;” it would have “zero percent emissions,” and GPT would have “no odors, dust, or dirt emitted that are detectable beyond the property line.” But anyone with basic common sense knows if you put an uncovered pile of a substance like coal on the ground, some of it would be carried away by wind and rain – it would have emissions.
GPT would put 2.5 miles of six-story high, uncovered coal stockpiles completely exposed to the wind and rain on the ground at Cherry Point. Wind, rain and tidal currents would spread GPT’s toxic coal dust through the air and water to our bays and beaches, to our communities, our homes, yards and gardens, to our food and our lungs.
While GPT proponents try to fool us with these ludicrous claims, GPT’s official permit application on file in Whatcom County says, in fact, that uncovered coal stockpiles generate windblown dust and GPT’s techniques for trying to control coal dust emissions would consist of “…perimeter soil berms, regular pavement sweeping and/or application of chemical surfactants,” and spraying the coal with up to 1.9 billion gallons of our Nooksack River water annually. That’s water we need for farms, fish and drinking.
And while GPT proponents say it would be harmless, GPT’s permit application says GPT’s potential impacts include “degradation in water quality, impacts on spawning fish populations and shoreline and tidal impacts,” and GPT could “impede tribal or commercial fishing success or tourism.”
We the people of Whatcom County depend upon the shared natural treasures provided by our beautiful environment – clean air, land and water. We’re not fools. We won’t permit GPT to destroy the natural treasures that our lives and livelihoods depend upon. So SSA Marine, Montana and Wyoming, please keep your coal, cover your own homes with it, breathe it or eat it. Here in Whatcom County we prefer to keep and eat our salmon.
HB 1355 – increasing the minimum wage to $12 per hour in Washington state – sounds like a wonderful idea. The bill, as Representative Vincent Buys states, is well intentioned. But if you are a small- to medium-sized business, those starting wages may be the reason not to hire another full- or part-time worker. That increase may be an economic imperative not to provide a benefit previously considered. Or that business may increase prices, and thus reduce gross sales of goods or services.
Representative Buys is aware of a fact many publicly elected officials do not consider. No businessman or woman can operate at a loss. No businessperson will allow himself or herself to be placed in the position of working for the state for free.
Let’s be sure the laws we create do not promote a society none of us can be proud of.