Letters to the editor, June 25- July 1

The Editor:

I am concerned there is a war going on against working people in Washington. The Gateway project is in the middle of preparing an environmental impact statement, but the Lummis insist the project be stopped right now. How is that fair? What happens when other businesses try to bring jobs to Whatcom County and someone decides they don’t like it for whatever reason?

The Lummis now have a big piece of land across from their very profitable casino. They will probably build a shopping center (with no local retailers) there, and they don’t have to follow the same land-use laws others do. There is even talk that they oppose the Gateway terminal so they can take that land and expand reservation boundaries.

For the little guy trying to support a family and live here, it seems hypocritical. At the very least, shouldn’t the decision-makers listen to all the parties involved and all the evidence, instead of shutting it all down prematurely? Maybe they’re worried about what the facts and science will show.

Everyone involved should work together to find solutions the way we used to, not favoring one special group over others.

Kevin Jordan

Blaine

The Editor:

The deadline for avoiding a government shutdown on July 1 is fast approaching and the Washington Legislature still cannot agree on a budget. Food banks across the state have received notices this week telling us that if there is no budget, we will not get the funds from the state that we rely on to keep our doors open. This is simply unacceptable and cannot happen.

At Ferndale Food Bank, we serve residents here in Ferndale, Custer and the very north bit of Bellingham. These are our neighbors who count on the food we provide to feed their families. One in five households across Whatcom County report they consistently do not have enough to eat. Without funding from the state it will be difficult for food banks to meet the need of folks who struggle. Throughout Whatcom County,  nearly 40 percent of food bank clients are children. The impasse in our state legislature is putting at risk their health and security.

It is time for the legislature to agree on a budget. The Washington House budget includes funding requests for food banks and other key anti-hunger programs while meeting basic education-funding obligations, thanks to the inclusion of a modest capital gains tax. Not passing a budget is not an option and neither is passing one that doesn’t support our neighbors in need and the working poor in our communities.

Suzanne Nevan, director

Ferndale Food Bank

The Editor:

Thank you to those brave, passionate activists protesting Shell’s arctic oil exploration. I am in awe of your determination and steadfast focus.

Your activism keeps attention on the fossil fuel debate. I lack your nerve and daredevil spirit, although I feel as passionately as you do.

I recently heard David Suzuki, Canadian scientist, geneticist, author, educator and environmental activist, state that for a healthy body we need clean air, clean water and clean soil. He wondered why anyone would accept a compromised environment, which compromises our health. Why indeed?

We are losing the struggle of climate change because we are still debating its effects and causes and because change is difficult. If we took the challenge to change the destructive course we are now on we may be able to mitigate the consequences. It is past time to move beyond the debate of the causes. We must demand that our government stop subsidizing fossil fuel. We must demand and work towards solutions.

Recently, Pope Francis announced his plea for our Earth. Read his message and take it to heart. To quote the Pope, “Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notice of progress,” away from consumption to sustainability. People’s voices and actions are needed to let our elected representatives know we are serious. We have a moral responsibility to protect our home.

Naomi Murphy

Ferndale

The Editor:

Our jail needs to be replaced!

Washington statutes require that Whatcom County house all people charged with felony crimes and for misdemeanor arrests made by the sheriff’s office or state law enforcement. We are also required to detain fugitives wanted in other states.

The cities are responsible for housing misdemeanor arrests made by their police departments. Due to a cooperative agreement, Whatcom County operates the only jail system in the county and, since 1984, has housed offenders on charges generated by all cities and tribes.

The main jail simply needs to be replaced. Under our charter and form of government, it is not the sheriff who decides if, when or how the jail is replaced. The sheriff does not establish tax policy and does not have the authority to set government priorities, place taxation proposals on the ballot or determine how costs are allocated. It is, however, his responsibility to operate the jail in a safe, humane and constitutional manner. He follows the recommendations of the citizen committees and professionals who were asked to assess this problem and reached similar conclusions.

We have reached the point where we must reduce the population of the main jail to more safe and manageable levels. In other words, a population cap. Once that cap is reached, cities and tribes will have to transfer those not released at first appearance to another jail. These procedures will need to begin right away.

Judy Criscuola

Bellingham

The Editor:

Our new jail may not be built, but it should not fail to be built because the city council and mayor of Bellingham hold it hostage.

A new jail for Whatcom County has been discussed for 20 years. In the last two years a million dollars has been spent in planning. To suddenly assert that the entire jail proposal should not go to the public for vote in August because it hasn’t a separate mental health facility is disingenuous.

I am in favor of expanding mental health counseling, hopefully preventing criminal activity caused by mental problems. But to deliberately hold the jail hostage, refuse to solve the enormous liability each taxpaying citizen of Bellingham and Whatcom County faces if there is a calamitous event resulting in loss of life and hold up a citizen vote in August by attempting to reduce jail size is ridiculous.

Councilman Terry Bornemann’s objection of the county failing to do more to help “drug court defendants find a job or place to live” is irrelevant to this discussion. Address the subject, councilman, not side issues.

Susan Blondell Kaplan

Bellingham

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