Letters to the editor, July 31- August 5

The Editor:

Why would anyone vote for Gary Jensen for Port of Bellingham commissioner? I can only think of reasons why not to vote for him, some of which are:

In the Whatcom County voters’ pamphlet, Gary Jensen said, “I have never supported the burning of coal.” His erroneous statement flies in the face of his years of campaigning for Gateway Pacific Terminal, a 48 million ton per year coal export terminal, and it demonstrates questionable ethics. The destination for all those millions of tons of coal is primarily Asia, where the coal would be burned. Jensen’s support of GPT means he has been supporting the burning of coal.

Since 2011, Ferndale mayor Jensen has been a huge public supporter of the GPT project. He allowed himself to be used in pro-GPT print, radio, video and social media ads. He gave permission in February 2011 to a PR firm and an advertising firm which did/does work for SSA Marine’s GPT project, to use his name, likeness, photo and voice. Jensen has been featured in pro-GPT ads through 2014.

In a Cascadia Weekly interview, Jensen was asked about his early and enthusiastic support for GPT, and he said, “The original design of the GPT project that was shown to us was for a multifaceted facility, with emphasis on grain. We – the small mayors – didn’t learn about coal until much later.”

However, the initial project information document for GPT was submitted by SSA Marine in February/March 2011. The document stated that for at least the first 10 years of operation, GPT would be shipping primarily coal. On June 3, 2011, The Bellingham Herald ran a story in which then-mayor Dan Pike announced he would fight SSA Marine’s plans for GPT after learning that coal would be the main product shipped. Jensen’s excuse saying he “didn’t learn about coal until much later,” is disingenuous.

As a sitting mayor, Jensen has acted like a spokesperson for GPT, helping SSA try to sell its coal export scheme to our county. What a disservice to his Ferndale constituents and to Whatcom County residents. I’m voting for Lloyd Zimmerman.

Sandy Robson

Birch Bay

The Editor:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank several longtime Blaine residents. When I walked across the border three years ago with only the clothes on my back, I was at a complete loss.

Luckily, an angel named Rene, who works at Hill’s Chevron, directed me to a couple of special folks at the Motel International, Rory Olson and Edith. They rented me a room that first night, directed me to Rick Freeman at Wheelhouse for a great burger and everyone made me feel right at home. Rory next directed me to one of our fine Blaine City Council members, Steve Lawrenson, who gave me part-time work to bridge the gap until I could get back on my feet.

Little did I know that three years later I would still be living at the “International,” golfing weekly with Rory, talking sports with “Coach,” and running a computer repair business. Without all these folks’ kindness, my life would be far different and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

The Motel International residents will miss Rory and Edith and the grateful way they ran the motel. Please join me in wishing them happiness and success in their future endeavors.

Benn Brechnitz

Blaine

The Editor:

A term has been repeated in the news lately: “cost benefit analysis.”

This is the strategy (rational) to protect big business from EPA and Department of Health and Human Services regulations. The July 23 Bellingham Herald reported “cost benefit analysis” was used to reject cutting the use of mercury in dental fillings for Medicaid and Medicare programs, the military, in prisons and on Indian reservations serving “price-sensitive patients.”

Cost benefit analysis is why the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is allowing Shell to drill “only on the top sections” of wells in Alaska while not having critical emergency equipment on site, and why legislators are rejecting labeling GMO foods.

Cost benefit analysis for major industry may be critical to make commercial products more affordable and convenient, as a recent letter to the editor suggested, but it restricts consumer choice, decision-making and safety, both personal and environmental.

Some CEOs who manage manipulation of public thinking (Citizens United protected) are the people who are finally acknowledging their offshore savings and incumbent tax savings amounting to billions and billions of dollars. Some also head companies that are slipping “cost benefit analysis” into regulation requirements that benefit only their companies and industries, not we the people.

Sign a petition and vote for I 735 to fight Citizens United control over commerce, our lives and our health.

Donna Starr

Blaine

The Editor:

Ten years ago, voters approved representation by district by a large majority. Yet before even one complete election cycle had occurred, the county council introduced a vaguely worded amendment to have it overturned. Why was that? Who wanted it overturned? And note that confusing language on the ballot – legalese – made it hard to know what a yes or no vote meant.

There is nothing unusual about having the people in your district control whether they want you to represent them. Most counties have either remained that way or returned to it. Countywide voting may sound more “fair” on the surface, but it can have the unfortunate result of council members who lost in your district nevertheless representing you. That person may have less knowledge or interest in your geographic area than the person who won in your district but lost countywide.

We currently have a county council that does a fair amount of unanimous or near-unanimous voting. That should worry us. If you know the issues they are discussing, there should be healthy disagreement, not people who are all of the same mind.

Judy Criscuola

Bellingham

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