Letters to the Editor - February 17-23, 2011

Published on Thu, Feb 17, 2011
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The Editor:
Isn’t it interesting how many things we take for granted until we no longer have them? Take state parks, for example.
The state budget crisis is driving our leaders to drastic solutions. The governor proposes to take state parks off all general fund tax support within the next couple of years.
In response, the parks and recreation commission, the governor and some legislators agree that the best and fairest option to keep the park system going is to ask those who use the parks to pay for them.
Senate bill 5622 would create a new vehicle recreation access permit called the Discover Pass. A companion bill was introduced in the house.
Unless the bill is amended, revenue from Discover Pass sales would be divided between state parks (85 percent), fish and wildlife (7.5 percent) and natural resources (7.5 percent).
Discover Passes would cost $30 annually for access to all state recreation lands. Passes could be obtained when people renew their license tabs. In addition, the agencies will work to identify other vendors and sites where passes may be purchased.
Charging for admission to recreation areas is not new. Access fees are charged for parks in most other states and in national parks, as well.
Currently, an annual pass to use Mount Rainier National Park costs $30.
Without an alternative funding source such as the Discover Pass, the majority of state parks will be affected. According to the commission, “If the Discover Pass bill doesn’t pass, we will be faced with gates swinging shut on the majority of the 119 parks that make up the Washington state parks system and reducing them to ‘zero service.’ Zero service means gates shut, water and electricity turned off, no restrooms and no staff to provide public safety and public service.”
Even during the great depression, with a nation confronting economic uncertainty, state parks did not close. Then, and especially now, state parks were seen as a means for offering people a low-cost, in-state option to escape and enjoy nature.
The future of Washington State Parks is in our hands. We can no longer take them for granted.
John Yirak

The Editor,
I would like to thank Blaine councilmen Alan Black and Harry Robinson for their request to hear “both sides of the story” before adopting Resolution 1578-11 – stating our community’s support for the proposed deep water coal terminal at Cherry Point.  
SSA, the developer, claims to have sustainable economic development of Whatcom County and the U.S. at large as one of its goals for this development.
When the mayor invites SSA to present their side of the story, she might ask them why they have declined to study the economically significant Cherry Point herring fishery; studies that were required as part of a permitting process agreement with the State to provide a baseline of the health of the fishery.  
Whatcom County residents may not worry much about herring, but the Cherry Point fishery is critical to the health of salmon and orca populations – species that define the character of the region.  Fishing and tourism related to these species feed and house thousands of families in this county and the surrounding area.
The Mayor might also ask SSA to speak to the economic revitalization impact of a raw coal export business that profits from the sale of coal to feed the booming industrial power that is China. After all, the US lost around 500,000 jobs to China in 2010 alone.
Finally, she might ask them how Congress’s increasing desire to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels will impact the long term viability of this project.  
Likely, by the time the government is willing to protect our strategic energy reserves and actually curtail such exports, SSA’s shareholders will have made a fat profit and we’ll be left with a white elephant . . . and a dead herring fishery.
I’m all in favor of the kind of commercial and industrial development that brings sustainable jobs and tax revenue into this county.  I’d just like to be sure the project is well thought through and the responsible parties are committed to interests other than just their own.
Alistair Jackson

The Editor:
With regard to the Wayne Groen incident and all the editorial comment shared, pro and con, one critical fact has not been mentioned since the initial report. That being that the pilot and co-pilot were wearing night vision goggles or NVGs.
NVGs enable the wearer to distinguish land detail and especially individuals by capturing existing random light sources and intensifying it so images can be discerned.
Since these devices are designed to work in minimal or no-light situations, for Mr. Groen to intentionally interject a light of the intensity reported toward the craft and impacting the operators’ field of vision, it would in fact overload the NVGs and cause temporary blindness to the operators.
Mr. Groen is actually quite fortunate to be facing only the charges as they stand. If he were not dealing with a highly trained team, he could have caused total disorientation of the crew and had the craft possibly crash in his front yard.
In my mind, Mr. Groen is in the same class as the person or persons who laser aircraft around Sea-Tac airport in Seattle.
All of us experience consequences for our errant actions throughout our lives, be they hard or soft, and Mr. Groen ought to have the opportunity to experience his for this action.
Michael Smith

The Editor:
To the property owners in the LID: if you band together please convince the city to bring that sewer pipe down Boblett Road east of Odell. I’d like to hook up.
Considering future development along H Street, I hope the city takes into consideration our water source. 1) Those forested water sheds need to be protected and 2) it’s not an endless supply.
Debbie Coleman

The Editor:
When Mr. Hardaway wrote, “she didn’t contribute,” he defined “rich” as the 10 percent who pay for 70 percent. We all reap the benefits, as Ms. Conyac so well stated, but my point was that even the poorest contribute as consumers. Capitalism is a cycle.
The problem is not gaining wealth and contributing to economic stability and consumer choice; the problem is in not understanding that everyone contributes something.
Our forefathers spent 1787 to 1789 discussing the foundation on which our nation is built. Should our nation be run by bankers and the elite as Hamilton and Madison felt, or by “we the people” as George Mason (protégé of Jefferson) and Patrick Henry wanted? This is the issue just settled in Egypt.
We had our own Shay’s Rebellion regarding the common man’s participation in leadership, and George Washington said at the time, “We must rescue the political machine from the impending storm.” It was seemingly decided that when we all contribute, we have a true democracy, economically and politically.
Ms. Conyac well proved my second point with astute research for accurate facts from a legitimate source. When facts are based on urban myth and orchestrated disinformation, whether from TV, radio, Internet, or various press, it causes fear, hate and misunderstanding.
Socrates was imprisoned and met his eventual demise because he was against adopting the alphabet and written word.
He felt that discourse found truth and feared that once something is recorded, it would become fact. He was concerned that the written word would be subject to misinterpretation, propaganda and bias.
We would be nowhere without the written word today, but we must be vigilant as to its accuracy.
I really appreciate public discourse and The Northern Light for this forum.
Donna Starr

The Editor,
The Semiahmoo Ladies Club appreciates the time that assistant editor Tara Nelson spent with us to relate how much our members work to be responsive to the needs in the Blaine community. Since one of our goals is to connect with community needs, we would like to clarify several events:
It is the Assistance League of Bellingham who is sponsoring the Mardi Gras gala fundraiser in Bellingham on February 26. The Assistance League not only supports Bellingham, but low-income children in the Blaine school district. The event is posted on our website on the community bulletin board but is not our event.
Also, last fall, Brent Brentnall contacted us about the needs of Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, which provides basic essentials for destitute families. These items include microwaves, mattresses, tables and chairs, cookware, etc.
We would also like to thank Tara for mentioning the importance of giving scholarships to Blaine high school students.
This year, the scholarship applications for high school seniors will be delivered to Blaine high school on March 22. The applications will be picked up on April 14.
Again, thank you Tara for your time and energy in writing this article.
JoAnn Howe,
The Semiahmoo Ladies Club

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