Letters to the Editor -- January 04, 2007

Published on Thu, Jan 4, 2007
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Letters to the Editor

The Editor:
The .08 limit is a half truth.
Washington state has done a good job of publicizing that if you drive at .08 or higher, you will be prosecuted. The state patrol’s “drive hammered, get nailed” campaign is very effective in putting the dangers and consequences of drunk driving in the minds of Washington drivers. So, knowing this, you have one glass of wine or maybe a hot-buttered rum at a holiday party or a neighbor’s house. You know you aren’t drunk. You are a responsible person, not a law breaking criminal. In fact, you don’t even panic when the red and blues start flashing in your rearview mirror. 

Maybe you should panic. What the average driver does not know is that Washington has in fact abandoned the concept of a “legal limit” in favor of prosecuting any drinking driver, even if the driver’s breath test is well under the legal limit.

The .08 limit is a half truth. I know. My firm has represented numerous citizens in Whatcom County and elsewhere who were well under the “legal limit” of .08 but they were still prosecuted for DUI. In fact, one client’s breath test was .02 and she was still charged with DUI.

How can this be? It happens because there are two distinct sections in our DUI law. One part of the statute sets forth the .08 “legal limit,” but the other part says you can be charged with DUI if you are “under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor.”

Surprisingly, a driver who knows he is under the .08 legal limit will still be charged with a DUI if the police officer who stopped him forms an opinion that he is “affected by” alcohol.

This opinion will be formulated not by the person who knows a driver the best, but rather officer’s observations of the driver and performance on field sobriety tests should the driver choose to perform them when offered by the officer.

If you are under the legal limit and yet charged with DUI you will face an experienced prosecutor and a harrowing journey through the legal system.
If a plea bargain is offered, such as a reduction to reckless or negligent driving, you may be intimidated into taking the deal because the prospect of going to trial and possibly being convicted of DUI is so terrifying. This is how you can wind up with a criminal record without ever blowing over a .08.
The road signs you see announcing the .08 legal limit are a half-truth. The whole truth is that being under .08 is no “safe harbor” from being prosecuted for DUI. And refusing the breath test will only make things worse.
Even if you are found innocent of DUI, refusing to take the test will result in a year’s revocation of your license by the Department of Licensing. If you are convicted of DUI after refusing the breath test, you’ll lose your license for two years even if you previously had a clean criminal record.
Who says our DUI laws are not tough? Taken together with the real but unannounced policy of “no tolerance” towards any drinking driver, citizens are on notice: don’t rely on being under .08 to keep you out of jail.
Jonathan Rands

The Editor:
Greatest show on Earth. The price of everything is going up: taxes, gas, food everything. But in our fair little city we have the best free show around, what is it you ask? Nothing more than a city council meeting. Where you can see weekly decision  flopping that would put a daytime soap to shame. Playing the part of the ill stricken character is our airport. Playing the dramatic rolls, our magnificent seven, full of passion and determination. I am telling you all it’s the best play in town.

The only problem is it’s all real and the  ill-stricken characters are the citizens of Blaine. The magnificent seven it would seem can’t show each other enough respect to let  one another know what is going to be on the agenda. Ask the “mayor” how he put the airport on the last agenda?
He admitted not contacting the council members that he knew didn’t want the airport, that is except Mr. Ely who “swung” his vote the other way again. Here’s a quick piece of information: did you know that the runway extension is not to be completed until 2014?

I think we should call or email the council and have them answer each of us these simple questions: one) Did you read an email from the FAA suggesting  Blaine scale back its request to a “maintenance plan” instead of a expansion plan? Two) what financing in writing have they seen to support expanding the airport? Three) Do they think we could sell the land and pay all debts including building the reserve fund (reserve fund budget is about $600,000 and at this time is about $100,000.) You can get their email addresses at www.ci.blaine.wa.us. I implore you all, get involved.
Chris Wenzl

The Editor:
I would like to send my sincerest thanks and appreciation to the family who found and turned in my son’s bike, the Blaine police department for facilitating the return of the bike and The Northern Light for helping me get the word out. It is nice to see the community come together and my son and I are truly grateful.
The Gibbins Family

The Editor:
People of Blaine wake up please. First you told the pinheads that run this city to get rid of the airport and as usual they ignored your wishes. There is a long history of them doing this. Then they mislead you into believing that money will be coming from the government to save the day, which is not the case, and now they are going to ignore you again and continue to pursue keeping the burden that has kept this city and you paying for a white elephant for too many decades. Over $100,000 a year just to give a few boys with their big boy toys the ability to have a playground for their toys.

Here is a novel idea, council, pull your heads out of the darkness and sell the airport and then take the money and use it to put into the new wastewater treatment plant along with all the money the airport owes the city and you will not have to raise the sewer rates for the people of this town, and quite possibly reduce what they are paying now.

There is no leadership in this town either on the council or in the administration of the city. Every now and then Jason Overstreet’s light goes on in a flicker from time to time, but then he fades into the mode of the lights on but no one is home.

This council is totally clueless as to what is good for this city and the people who pay the bills (you the taxpayer). When are you going to stand up and recall this entire council and fire the buffoon of a city manager and elect a mayor who will do what is best for the people of this town and not cater to a bunch of whiners with wings who are too lazy to drive to Bellingham to play with their toys?

For those of you that think I am blowing smoke up your skirt, I was right 12 years ago when I said we needed to get rid of the airport, and I have been right in all of my predictions about this town ever since, and I am right about this now. As more and more businesses move out of this town to greener pastures the only thing left here will be the border and a few gas stations.
David White

The Editor:
The letters from Angelo Gibson and Alice Workentin on snow removal were interesting discussion. I think this is a safety issue (e.g. emergency trips to the hospital) in addition to convenience and property protection. Also, it can be a legal issue. In some jurisdictions, a store owner can be sued if someone falls in front of the store due to snow/ice not cleared after a snow storm. Has Blaine city been sued on this?

Personally, I think Blaine performed poorly this time and last year. This is especially true if you compare it with our neighbors, e.g. White Rock and Surrey, B.C.. Their roads were cleared to blacktop two days after the storm while ours were snow/ice/slush covered nine days after.

That brings me to the key points of the discussion. Is the Blaine performance acceptable? If yes, then we can stop the discussion. If not, then why did it fail? In general I believe a failure of service can be of two kinds: failure of performance or failure of design point. The former is due to work that was not done to specification and the latter is due to poor specification.

Another way to looking at it, two questions: One) What is the target performance level? In some community or cities, it is “blacktop the day after the snow.”

Do we adopt a “whatever Mother Nature takes us” target? My questions: What is the Blaine’s performance target on this? Was it performed up to that level? Given the fact that big snow is a rarity in this area, what contingency plans are in place to handle this type of rarity?

Two) What is the acceptable performance level? I understand this is actually subject to budget and other constraints. If the current performance target is not acceptable, then what is the additional cost/resource needed to achieve the higher performance?

What is the reasonable next higher level? Are we willing to pay for this additional performance? My questions: Has this ever been brought up as an issue of discussion in Blaine? If yes, what was the result? I appreciate your attention.
Fred Wong

The Editor:
Last Thursday, December 20, when I went to Cost Cutter to get a few things a really nice thing happened. After the cashier rang up my groceries she said they were free. She said someone left money with her and that is what paid for my groceries and the remainder of the money was also given to me.
The cashier couldn’t tell me the name of the person who did this wonderful thing. This was the only way I could think of to say thank you so very much.
Jackie Stewart
Birch Bay

The Editor:
The Port of Bellingham (POB) is considering to permanently close off the Blaine public pier at the end of Marine Drive to motor vehicle traffic. It has been temporally closed, since a tragic suicide there five weeks ago.

The Blaine community has had a long and well established custom of “cruising the dock” ever since it was open to the public and before the port acquired it from the city. The port’s plan is to have people park their vehicles at the public lot next to where the Harbor Café was and require them to walk in. If you think the Blaine public pier should remain open to all users and their automobiles, you need to let the Port know now.

The POB will be holding at least one public meeting this month to possibly decide this and other issues related to the Blaine Harbor Improvement update plan.

The meeting(s) will be held at the community room next to the Blaine harbor master’s office. Call the POB for the date and time or look for the details in this paper. The port is taking public comment. Let your voice be heard, this is your vote on the issue.

Write or e-mail Sylvia Goodwin, director of planning, Port of Bellingham P.O. Box 1677, Bellingham, WA 98227-1677 or e-mail her at: sylviag@portofbellingham.com. It is important also to send a copy of your letter to Terry Galvin director of community development, city of Blaine, 344 H Street Blaine, WA 98230 or e-mail him at: tgalvin@cityof blaine.com.
Richard Sturgill

The Editor:
Many thanks to Blaine’s city planners for considering the following:
Natural population growth in our area and the demand created by developers has the same end result, more people and more cars. As Blaine’s population grows, nobody wants to lose the tranquil rural lifestyle that brought most of us to this area.

One way to prevent the loss of positive human connections is to interlace the ever-expanding micro-communities with small open space hubs (parks) that can be reached through a network of walking trails and bike paths. All of the open space hubs and their interconnecting trails should be further connected to trails that lead to downtown Blaine.

Blaine is expanding rapidly to fill many of the areas that were once forests and farms with suburban-style developments. Fortunately, most of the new developments are less than five miles from downtown Blaine by road (or water).

For example, as the community expands into east Blaine near Harvey Road and beyond to Valley View along H Street Road, every developer should be required to work with the city to create a bicycle and walking path along H Street Road.

The trail would connect the above-mentioned network of parks and communities with downtown Blaine and its food shopping, bus connections, library, schools, and businesses.

The same should be true for developments along Peace Portal Drive and in the Semiahmoo area (where Plover-style boats could be used all year long to connect to the bike trail network).

If Blaine is to remain a functional community and a people friendly place to live, and not become just another suburban style bedroom community, it will have to maintain a human scale environment that is people friendly, sustainable, and self-sufficient.

Communities that can only connect by car are less safe, less friendly, and as the price of gas goes up, doomed to isolation.
Cathy Taggett and
Ron Snyder,
The Circle of Trees
Art Studio

The Editor:
I want to thank those who took the time to vote in this year’s legislative elections for the 42nd District and those who helped me with the election.
In the end, I received 47 percent of the vote to Dale Brandland’s 53 percent. Although I did not win, the campaign gave me an opportunity to meet many wonderful people. I will never forget the friendliness, appreciation, and encouragement many of you have shown me. This campaign showed the power of the grassroots. We focused heavily on doorbelling and, despite being significantly outspent, we came close to winning. My favorite part of the campaign was seeing people’s faces light up when I came to the door and introduced myself as a candidate. Thousands of people seemed genuinely excited and hopeful, cautiously believing that a candidate who takes the time to come to their door will represent them in a sincere way.

I plan to continue in public service. I have recently been appointed to the Whatcom County planning commission, where I will help to advise the county council on how best to plan for growth, preserve our quality of life, and stimulate our agriculture industry.

I can be reached at jsalomon10@gmail.com.
Jesse Salomon

The Editor:
On Thanksgiving Day I had the very great honor of cooking and helping put on the Blaine Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the Blaine Senior Center. I have done this for the past four years for the American Legion Peace Arch Post 86, but I could not do it without the great bunch of volunteers from the post and community. I would like to thank all of them.
Chuck Muggy, 2nd vice,
American Legion Post 86

The Editor:
Not snow, nor ice nor dark of night could keep Santa and Mrs. Claus from their appointed rounds at Blaine’s Christmas lighting! We certainly appreciate everyone who braved the cold to join us downtown for caroling around the tree. We’d like to thank the downtown merchants who put up lights and served refreshments and the great volunteers who worked so hard to make the evening a success. Special thanks to Blaine public works department, Jim Jorgensen & Jackie Robbins, Blaine city staff, John Paradis & Kim Shea of Sterling Savings Bank and Kendall’s Tree Service & Nursery for donating the beautiful tree. Best wishes to all!
Carroll Solomon
Blaine Chamber of

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