Letters to the Editor -- June 16, 2005

Published on Thu, Jun 16, 2005
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Letters to the Editor

The Editor:
In 1894, when a post office was established in Mille Lacs County, Minnesota, the village needed a name. The citizens chose Peace, but didn’t know how to spell it. So we have Pease, Minnesota. What a funny pity! But the letter I am about to write is no joke. I ask every reader to ponder it seriously. Consider ultimate concerns and what is at stake rather than the usual local issues and little else.
Birch Bay is seriously considering incorporation. That’s no small step for a community. I’m suggesting one that’s even bigger. Allan Friedlob believes Blaine and Birch Bay together could become “a new kind of city.” Last week’s issue of The Northern Light quoted him as saying, “We could create a whole new area that takes the strength of both and reformulates it as a new city, as long as we call it Birch Bay.”
I suggest Birch Bay and Blaine preserve their historic names as subdivisions of that “new kind of city” which, in my opinion, deserves a brand new name of its own.
Name it the City of Peace – three words that are the English equivalent of Jerusalem and Dar-es-Salaam. The City of Peace would intrigue the world. It would become the only city in the United States to present Peace as an unmodified noun. The other two are Peace Dale, Rhode Island and Peace Valley, Missouri.
 “I’ll bet you five dollars men will never go to the moon,” I told a fellow college student in 1951. “God won’t allow it.” Less than two decades later God allowed it. Today, there may be millions willing to bet world peace is unattainable. Of course, if enough people share that belief, the self-fulfilling prophecy will kick in, and they will say, “See, we told you so!”
We must buck the tide of hopelessness. The City of Peace, so named, would be one giant leap for Birch Bay and Blaine. The need is universal, the opportunity is open, and years of exciting history will unfold, should the City of Peace become the Fourth Corner’s defining moment.
Richard Clark

The Editor:
We doubt many Blaine residents appreciate how many hours the planning commission has already devoted to discussing the current application to build on the spit. We are fortunate to have citizens who are willing to do this.
We are also fortunate that the city’s community development department spent an enormous amount of time producing a staff report on this application. This report clearly concluded that the planning commission should deny the present application or only approve it after the applicant had met many conditions.
Unfortunately, the planning commission is now having to wade through volumes of information submitted by the applicant’s legal team, responding to this report even after the same legal team already spent almost six hours doing this, verbally, at the public hearings. Included in this rebuttal information are new, incorrect statements like “citizens were asking the city to deny the project to keep the price low, so the property could be purchased.” Really?
On the one hand, these lawyers are also asking to implement what was apparently permitted in a 20-year old master plan and on the other hand they are also seeking approval to do what was not included. For example, moving the road was not included in the master plan but is now being requested because the applicant wants to build on both sides. Additionally, despite their reference to this new construction only increasing traffic on the spit by a total of 12 cars at peak times, they are also discussing parking for 750 cars and the construction of a two-story parking lot on the spit.
We understand further applications will soon be submitted for building on other parts of the spit. It is unfortunate the planning commission cannot take this into consideration when considering the present application. So much for a master plan!
It is difficult to understand why the city cannot meet with the applicant, Whatcom County, the Lummi Nation, and Skagit – who are operating the hotel – and determine a plan for all of the spit.
Perhaps, the requirement contained in the city’s report, that interested investors would have to be informed of the potential tsunami hazard and be aware of tsunami evacuation plans for the spit, might make all this irrelevant anyway. If they build it, they may not come!
In the meantime, our thoughts are very much with this committee as they wrestle with this challenge – the outcome of which could affect this beautiful, unique place forever. It is good to see that they are refusing to be intimidated by an expensive legal team who continue to refer to a solid wall of buildings, blocking the views of both Point Roberts and Mt. Baker as – cottages.
Trevor Hoskins

The Editor:
Two weeks ago you published a letter from two people from Maine who were given a bad time at the border. Following is a letter I mailed to my congressman, Rick Larsen:
I am writing this as a citizen who is much more concerned about erosion of my civil liberties than I am of terrorists.
When people without common sense are given authority, they are too apt to abuse their power – as witnessed by prisoner abuse in Iraq and Guantanamo.
Here at home, we have our border guards where a few without common sense are abusing power. I enclose a recent letter to the Blaine newspaper, The Northern Light. There have been other similar letters and I have heard a few personal anecdotes.
My main point: The administration wants everyone entering the United States to have a passport to both protect us and speed up border crossings. The people in the attached letter both had U.S. passports and should have breezed through the border crossing yet they were clearly harassed.
Further, the administration seems to have lost sight of the fact that all the terrorists involved in 9/11 had U.S. passports. They were also all Arabs from one of the most undemocratic countries in the world – but we are sacrificing our troops trying to force democracy on Iraqis. No common sense anywhere.
Ralph Emery

The Editor:
I am writing in regards to the incorporation of Birch Bay.
Before being led down a rosy path paved with grandiose promises if Birch Bay becomes a city, there are many serious items to consider:
1. Birch Bay is a very unique residential/resort community and cannot be compared to any other city or town in the area (or the state). Many are vacation homeowners from Canada. Some are condo owners with different needs and desires. Still others are timeshare participants who further swell the population in the summer and their number is growing rapidly. They may stay a few days or a week. There are many retired people on limited incomes.
2. Using hypothetical boundaries of Lincoln on the north, Blaine Road on the east and Grandview on the south, reliable sources report that of the total taxable accounts in the area with a Blaine zip code, approximately 60 percent of all property owners (taxpayers) reside outside the area. This means their primary voting precinct is not in Birch Bay.
3. How would the necessary infrastructure be set up and managed for the vast number of expenses involved in running a city? Who would be in charge? Would they have the expertise required in human resources management including police, fire, emergency response, etc? This is the type of professional does not come cheap!
4. Would we really be better off trying to provide the necessary fire and police services for the busy summer season and the reduced needs of the other nine months? What about the predicted population and the problems involved? Do we want to put our money into an unknown pot and join the other financially strapped and troubled towns in Whatcom County? Whatcom County already has the infrastructure and qualified personnel to provide these services and has done a commendable job in the past considering the many problems connected with border communities.
5. Would BP-Arco and Chemco with their large tax base be included, and, if so, how would the monies be disbursed?
6. If push comes to shove, who would have the power – the influential business, resort owners, timeshare management, or the few voting residents? Remember, what’s best for the former may not be best for the latter. It might be a high price to pay to put Birch Bay as your return address. The businesses could sell out for millions and the tax-paying residents would be left holding the bag of bills.
Marilyn Vaux

The Editor:
Yesterday, I was once again amazed to see an Amtrak commuter train stop for 10 minutes at the Blaine train station for border inspection, and nobody from Blaine was permitted to buy a ticket and get on the train. Each week, my family and - I’m sure many others - head south to Bellingham, Seattle, and beyond by car for business, to shop, visit family and friends and vacation. An equal or greater number of people would travel north for the same reasons, and that could be a business boon for our entire fast-growing area.
At a time when our young men and women are fighting overseas, it is in our national interest and responsibly to do everything we can to free ourselves of our dependence on imported oil. Allowing a train to stop, and accept no passengers, while gas guzzling autos with one driver per vehicle travel the same route as the train not only makes no economic sense, it is unpatriotic at a time when our country is embroiled in conflict.
Imported oil is one of the major causes for the imbalance in payments that is wreaking havoc on our country’s budget and economic system. The train not accepting passengers may seem like an insignificant contributor to the trade deficit, and yet accepting passengers would be a step in the right direction.
What better place to make a statement for economic freedom from oil politics than in Blaine, the Peace Arch city?
Ron Snyder
The Circle of Trees Art Studio

The Editor:
It was my pleasure to walk in the 5K human race in Bellingham on June 11.
I offer my sincere thank you to the many who have supported me with your generous donations for Stafholt Good Samaritan Scholarship Fund. I feel humble and grateful, with pride, to be a participant on the Stafholt Good Samaritan team for the second year.
I know the recipients of any scholarship will be grateful to have helped to continue their education.
You have been exceedingly supportive with your generous donations for this cause and I take this means to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.
You are great!
Vivian Campin

The Editor:
The Northwest Regional Drug Task Force (NWRDTF) is operated by the Bellingham police department, the Whatcom County sheriff’s office and the Whatcom County prosecuting attorney’s office. Enforcement is primarily directed towards eradicating the manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine. This activity usually occurs in residential neighborhoods with devastating results. Aside from dismantling clandestine laboratories, the NWRDTF has successfully disrupted several organizations producing methamphetamine for national distribution.
Historically, significant NWRDTF funding has been derived through United States Department of Justice Byrne Grants. These funds are scheduled to be eliminated in the 2006 federal budget and will significantly affect law enforcement’s ability to address the methamphetamine problem. At the same time, programs to aid in methamphetamine education and treatment are also being eliminated. With the enormous health, safety, crime, environmental and child protection problems methamphetamine creates, this action could not come at a worse time.
Representative Rick Larsen and representative Dave Reichert of the Washington State Congressional delegation are co-sponsoring the bi-partisan Byrne Restoration Act to restore this important source of funding. With our proximity to the border and the availability of precursors used in the methamphetamine manufacture process in Canada, it is essential to our success that this funding be restored.
Bill Elfo, Whatcom County Sheriff

The Editor:
The Blaine airport commission would like to extend a warm and heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to making the Community Appreciation Day Fly In such a success.
People came together in a way that shows what can happen when the community works together. And that is exactly what happened on Saturday; businesses, civic groups, individuals and many volunteers came together to give of their time and energy. 
Through their efforts, 78 kids were given free airplane rides by generous and enthusiastic EAA pilots and another 50 kids will receive their rides on an upcoming rain date. Families and kids were able to meet and joke around with their local police and fire fighters. 
Kids had a chance to learn about amazing things they can do, like raising or training a guide dog, joining the Sea Scouts or Civil Air Patrol, building a plane or reading about their heroes at the library.
Thank you to the pilots, to the cadets and officers of the Civil Air Patrol, Blaine Fire Department, Blaine Police Department, Blaine Public Library, Blaine Sea Scouts, the EAA, Sterling Bank, Boys & Girls Club, Blaine Senior Center, Blaine Visitor’s Center, Paso Del Norte, Blackberry House, Heritage Flight Museum, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Whatcom Search & Rescue Explorers, Aero Flight School, WSDOT, the 99s, Bunky Larson and his Travel Aire bi-plane, Glacier Aviation Helicopters, Jumping Jacks and our ice cream vendor for their participation. And thanks to ICOM Canada, Ocean Kayak, Semiahmoo Resort, Smuggler’s Inn, Truffles by the Sea, Cost Cutter, Pacific Building Center, the Port of Bellingham and BP for their contributions.
You see, flying in a small plane has a way of taking the problems we all face in any given day and letting us soar above them, at least for a little while. And everyone needs that; an opportunity to dream and a reason to hope. That’s what this Community Appreciation Day was all about and the smiles on the faces of the kids and the thrill they got from having a chance to take the controls of a plane was worth all the work that went into the event.
Tiana Sanders, Blaine
Airport Commission

Letters Policy
The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank-you letters should be limited to 10 names. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please send your letter to:
225 Marine Drive, Blaine, WA 98230 or fax 360/332-2777.

Letters Policy

The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank you letters are limited to five individuals or groups. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please email letters to letters@thenorthernlight.com