Letters to the editor, January 7- January 13

The Editor:

I am writing to let our community know that we are in danger of losing a very important resource in our town, Weight Watchers! I have been attending our local meeting off and on for over nine years. I get started and lose weight then I think, “Oh, I can do this on my own; I don’t need to go pay someone to help me with this,” so I quit going and then, lo and behold, I gain everything back, so back I go.

Everyone there is always so welcoming and most importantly non-judgmental! We have men and women, young and old, just a great bunch of people from all walks of life who share their struggles. We all problem solve together and exchange ideas – it’s great.

Weight Watchers has said we have to increase our weekly attendance or they will close our meeting (we are all aware of budget issues in this day and age) and I for one don’t want to drive to Bellingham to find a meeting. I have to continue losing weight for my health and I am determined this time, no matter how long it takes, to reach my goal. Once I reach goal, the meetings are free and I can continue to go for the support and education. Registration is free, weekly meetings are $15 or, do like I do, pay a monthly fee of $44.

I have had more doctors tell me this is a smart plan to be on and the best thing for me is that there are no “forbidden” foods. I can eat what I want, write it down or not, use technical gadgets to assist me or stick with pencil and paper, it truly is made to be your plan. If your New Year’s resolution is to get healthy this is a great way to do it. As Oprah says, “If not now, when?” Come join us Thursday nights at C and 6th streets. Check in at 5 p.m., meeting starts at 5:30.

Laurie Hart

Blaine

The Editor:

“All the News That’s Fit to Print” is the guiding principle for The New York Times. I believe that principle guides any newspaper committed to journalistic integrity, and I would like to consider The Northern Light to be such a newspaper. That’s why I was so deeply disappointed with your decision to print the interview, “State rep talks GPT, rail issues” with state representative Matt Manweller (R-Ellensburg) on December 31.

To anyone with actual knowledge of the proposed GPT operation, Mr. Manweller’s assertions became increasingly absurd as the interview progressed … revealing his false claims to be merely “talking points,” provided to him by corporate promoters, not credible facts.

I appreciate that you interjected editor notes to correct Mr. Manweller’s gross misrepresentations of facts pertaining to coal dust emissions from rail cars as well as his failure to even acknowledge the risk of wind-blown coal dust from the proposed 80-acre, 60-feet high, uncovered open coal stockpiles, when he preposterously claimed there wouldn’t even be piles of coal.

But, as one who has carefully studied the official GPT project proposal document, I believe editor notes could have (or should have) been interjected following most of Mr. Manweller’s false or misleading interview responses regarding other matters, including: projected numbers of jobs, potential tax benefits and relative shared costs from taxpayers and BNSF for grade-separation crossing infrastructure improvements.

As your editorial staff knows, the official GPT application proposes only 257 permanent jobs (after an estimated 10 years of operation). Your staff also knows that the financial responsibility for grade-separation infrastructure improvements, typically, ends up being covered 5 percent by the railroad company and 95 percent by taxpayers.

I ask that, in the future, when someone contacts The Northern Light offering to talk about anything that potentially impacts the health and safety of our local residents as well as our environment and the overall quality of life in our community, please adhere to that guiding journalistic principle, “All the News That’s Fit to Print” before release. Or, in Representative Manweller’s case, give your readers some advance warning with a title such as: “State rep fantasizes GPT, rail issues.”

Michael Crum

Birch Bay

The Editor:

Over the holidays, the Lynden Tribune ran a Northwest Jobs Alliance (NWJA) editorial entitled, “We Need Cherry Point’s Working Class Jobs,” in which the authors seemed ungrateful for the many jobs, taxes and charitable donations provided by Lummi Nation’s Silver Reef Casino. They did not express gratitude for the effort Lummi leaders have put into working to provide our county government with suggestions for ways to protect our precious resources here in this gorgeous area.

For me, NWJA and SSA Marine/PIT/GPT are one and the same, since Craig Cole is both director for NWJA and a paid spokesperson for the Gateway Pacific coal terminal. If coal interests want to endear themselves to us in favor of their project, it strikes me as a crazy strategy to chastise our fellow Whatcom County community members as they have been doing. Wouldn’t you think they would want to demonstrate how much they support putting the quality of our air, lands and waters first, for example, by writing comments advocating these top priorities and adequate regulations to protect them in our county’s comprehensive plan, as the LIBC and Lummi planning department has?

Luckily, if SSA/PIT/GPT and NWJA won’t do it, we citizens have the opportunity to stand up for our treasured Blaine, Birch Bay and Semiahmoo areas and the rest of this wondrous county when the public hearing for the comprehensive plan update takes place on January 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Whatcom County Council chambers in Bellingham. We can tell our council, planners, local representatives and businesses that we want clean bays and harbors, good smelling and healthy salt air, untainted rivers, aquifers and lands to grow foods to keep us alive and flourishing.

Let’s let them know we want to support businesses that keep our area life-supporting and beautiful, and that will create jobs for all sectors of our population.

Dena Jensen

Birch Bay

The Editor:

I would like to give a big “Yeah!” to all of the wonderful members of our Blaine Thursday evening Weight Watchers meeting! Our members ended 2015 with a loss of 531 pounds.

I am honored to be able to “journey” with each member attending a meeting over the last nine years. As you begin to consider a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, think “baby steps” as you are really beginning a lifestyle change.

Anne Freeman

Blaine

The Editor:

Last week’s article, “State rep talks GPT, rail issues” exemplifies how poorly Americans are served when politicians get all their information from corporations and newspapers publish it as “news.” Representative Manweller, head of the Washington State Rail Caucus, omits the most basic fact of railroad crossing financing: by law, taxpayers are required to pay 95 percent of all costs for railroad underpasses/overpasses/street grid changes and the railroad pays only 5 percent.

If built, GPT’s 18 daily coal trains (on average one every 80 minutes of the night and day) would cause delays at dozens of railroad crossings in Washington state likely necessitating dozens of $100 million over/underpasses. It would take 10 years for GPT’s approximate $11 million in annual state and local taxes to pay for just one overpass/underpass. Basic arithmetic and an ounce of integrity are all it takes to know that GPT would be a tremendous new tax burden on taxpayers.

Manweller falsely claims people are trying to stop passenger trains when in fact they’re trying to stop coal trains – the most polluting of all trains. It’s malignly absurd for Manweller to deny that coal trains pollute: BNSF data show each train car releases approximately 500 lbs. of coal dust, so a typical 135-car coal train would release 67,500 lbs. of coal dust en route.

And stopping GPT wouldn’t add more semi-truck traffic to our roads, it would prevent adding 18 daily coal trains. It’s not economically feasible to replace a train
hauling coal, a cheap heavy bulk cargo, with 250 semi-trucks traveling more than 2,000 miles round-trip.

Manweller provided phony job numbers while omitting the fact that GPT’s official project application documents say 257 is the most permanent jobs GPT ever would provide.

Manweller says SSA didn’t provide him any information about GPT coal storage. But GPT would have 2.5 miles of 62’ high uncovered coal piles. Wind and rain would spread GPT’s toxic coal dust to nearby communities – endangering people’s health, life and property. So please, The Northern Light must provide readers with accurate information about GPT – it’s important and we’re depending on you.

Paula Rotundi

Blaine

(Pub. Note: Many of the points raised in Rotundi’s and Crum’s letters have been covered by this newspaper in the past and undoubtedly will be in the future. As chair of the state rail caucus, Representative Manweller is in a position of power and influence and we believe readers should know his beliefs and opinions as stated in the interview. An added benefit is that publishing such interviews allows readers to write in and raise countervailing arguments.)

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