Letters to the Editor - January 20-26, 2011

Published on Wed, Jan 19, 2011
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The Editor:
I was surprised that the “2010 Year in Review” did not mention the Olympic Torch visiting Peace Arch Park.
The park had special hours, and Governor Christine Gregiore and Premier Gordon Campbell attended.Those of us who braved the cold that February morning watched in wonder as the morning sun rose, revealing blue sky and white clouds over the international park and Boundary Bay. It was a once in a lifetime event.
The Peace Arch was also promoted around the world as a symbol of unity and peace in a beautiful short video clip on our US/Canada friendship.
It was shown just prior to the opening ceremonies on NBC.  You can see a video of the torch’s visit to the park and the NBC short film clip on our website at www.peacearchpark.org.
In Peace,
Christina Alexander
United States Canada Peace
Anniversary Association (USCPAA)

The Editor:
On behalf of the staff, our community and especially the students, it is a pleasure to acknowledge the members of the Blaine school district board of directors.
January is national school board recognition month and Todd Berge, Mike Dodd, Charles Gibson, Susan Holmes and Campbell McClusky continue to provide enthusiastic and dedicated service to staff and students. This team of volunteers works diligently to assure young people are educated and prepared for their future in the workplace and in the community.
They are charged with almost overwhelming responsibilities including, most recently, constantly diminishing financial resources being provided to the district. As your representatives, they strive to provide an environment in which every student can learn and achieve at the highest level possible.
Members of the Blaine, Birch Bay and Point Roberts communities are asked to join me in recognition and thanks to the Blaine school directors for their countless hours of volunteer service to public education and providing that which is best for our children.
Ron Spanjer, superintendent
Blaine school district

The Editor:
As we enter into a new decade with a constipated city council and management of this city, and no matter if we shoved them full of Exlax by the truckload we could never flush them out of their tax and spend policies.
Again we start out with little to no growth in jobs, in buildings or economic stimulus to make this town grow, and it has been like that for the last 10 years with no signs of change.
 It is just mind boggling that you people of Blaine are so apathetic that you continue to allow yourselves to be subject of them raising fees and services when there is no need to, if these pinheads will make staff cuts and budget modifications to where they don’t have to keep reaching in our pockets to sustain their misguided spending policies.
For all those liberal groups who come before the council with their collective hands out for your tax dollars, the council should say to them go out and see what you can raise through private donations and we will match it.
That would make them work for what they get instead of a free handout of your tax dollars. I wonder then how successful their little pet projects would be if they had to put some effort into it.
Just look at the expansion and growth just a couple of miles north of the border.
How come it only takes two months to get a project up and moving in that country and they are growing very fast, with lower service costs there then we have here, and it takes so long for a project to get going in this town that companies will walk away from this town because they don’t want to deal with the permit process here.This town will never grow and prosper as long as the same narrow-minded pinheads and management are still here and won’t wake up.
Dave White

The Editor:
I am writing regarding the action taken by the federal government against a U.S. citizen who lives on the border. Since 9/11, the government has placed so much emphasis on border protection that there was bound to be friction with the people who actually live there.
Citizens did not sign away their rights when they purchased property on or near the border. Many were living there in peace when 9/11 occurred. No protocol was given to civilians on how to behave or react when their homes are buzzed repeatedly by government helicopters at all hours or how to deal with the stress of 24-hour camera surveillance.
They were given no person with whom to air their grievances when they feel their constitutional rights as Americans are being obliterated. Border citizens have lived with constant surveillance, air noise and the over-abundance of federal agents lurking on private property.
Homeland Security has usurped the property rights and civil liberties of our border citizens. They have turned private property into their practice area and militarized zone. They possess an extremely broad scope of authority, but that does not make it right. I would remind them that harassment and trying to make an “example” of an outstanding citizen is intolerable and is having the opposite effect of what they intended.
If an average, responsible U.S. citizen such as Wayne Groen has been pushed to the point of aggravation, would it not make sense for the border patrol chief to call and/or meet with residents? Some may say that Mr. Groen overacted but have they lived under the conditions that he has or the frustration of having their concerns and complaints ignored?
U.S. Homeland Security and the border patrol chief should understand how their current methods create friction among citizens who have had their civil rights suspended. I urge them to appoint an ombudsman who is accessible and responsive to the local citizens.
I understand Mr. Groen’s house is no longer harassed by low-altitude helicopter fly-bys. However, the government persists in trying to make an example out of him, supposedly in an effort to keep everyone in submission.
All charges against Wayne Groen should be dropped. A public apology for the mistreatment and harassment of an honest, hard-working, patriotic U.S. citizen would also go a long way toward assuaging the anger that has been stirred up among property owners near the border.
Our north-county citizens and property owners are our first line of defense for border security and have always been so. To antagonize them is counterproductive to our national security.
Hopefully, this letter and this incident are viewed as an opportunity to gain greater support for the role of Homeland Security on the border. This will not happen without increased communication and coordination.
I am sure that Homeland Security/Border Patrol can point to several instances where they showed great restraint in their interaction with citizens on the border. However, since there is no communication, who would know?
Please give our citizens on the border their property rights and civil rights back. Give them a voice and treat them with respect and dignity.
Please contact the border patrol head cheif, John Bates, at john.bates1@dhs.gov and give him your thoughts. You would be well served to also send a copy of your letter to your local newspaper to make sure your thoughts are expressed. If you want to keep your rights, you must use your voice as a U.S. citizen.
Ron Reimer

The Editor:
On January 15, I was returning from Canada to the U.S. via the Peace Arch border crossing at Blaine, WA. During the interview process with the Customs and Border Protection agent at the drive through booth when asked if I was bringing anything back from Canada I stated that I had one bottle of alcohol and two Cuban cigars.
At this time he asked to see the cigars that were in my possession.  I handed them to him and he looked them over for a moment before writing a code of some sort onto an official orange sticky note. Agent #1 then told me that Cuban cigars were not allowed into the US. He then directed me to see an agent inside at secondary inspection.
 The secondary inspection agent inside seemed rather surprised that I was being sent in for further inspection for two cigars but nonetheless stated that I could either abandon them at the border or return to Canada with them.  I told agent #2 that I would return to Canada with my cigars.
When I returned to my vehicle with agent #2 he showed me which way to travel to return to Canada where I asked him where my cigars were.  I told him that agent #1 at the crossing booth had taken them from me before sending me to secondary inspection.
It is my understanding that it is the responsibility of agents at secondary inspection to determine if any items are to be taxed or confiscated and that secondary inspection agents are the ones that will take possession of confiscated items. Based upon this understanding it is my contention that agent #1 at the border crossing booth intended to have me abandon my Cuban cigars and that he was going to keep those Cuban cigars for his enjoyment.
If this is indeed the case it makes me wonder how much other contraband he is keeping for himself. Also, with a little bit of "grease on the palm" what is he allowing to be brought across?  What other activities are the guardians of our borders up to?
Craig Ellison

Lake Stevens


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