I have lived across from the train tracks in Blaine for 10 years. I feel like I need to set the record straight after Charles Robbins’ curt letter from March 29. Charles seem to have some difficulty telling a loaded coal train from an empty one.
As it currently stands, we have about five loaded coal trains a day that run north to Canada through Whatcom County. We also have those same trains returning southbound empty. From my vantage point I can honestly say I have never seen a loaded train moving coal south into the U.S. from Canada!
With the addition of the SSA Terminal, we in Blaine would see little change in the amount of coal moving north through our town, but all of the county south of the terminal will see a substantial increase.
On April 19 my husband and I were geocaching in Marine Park in Blaine. Somewhere between the totem pole and the wall with the fish, we lost our GPS. We emailed the parks department and the police, and both responded very quickly. The parks department offered some very good suggestions, and the police had the happy news that our GPS had been turned into the police department by a public works employee.
We would like to commend all departments for your quick action and especially would like to thank the nameless public works employee who found the GPS and turned it in.
Many thanks from a neighbor in White Rock.
Ron and Betty Rumsby
White Rock, B.C.
RE Sources thinks we need another regulation?
I can’t believe RE Sources would burden the citizens of Blaine and Birch Bay with more bureaucracy by forcing them to be included in a national stormwater permit.
Anyone who has ever undertaken a building project can testify to the stringent requirements they must follow. Stormwater runoff management and wetlands mitigation are very strict in the “critical area” that is the Drayton Harbor watershed.
Whatcom County employees already monitor water quality, and the county has implemented a septic tank inspection and monitoring program.
I see this forced requirement as being an expensive duplication of services. Citizens of Blaine and Birch Bay already pay for water quality monitoring through taxes and fees. Does RE Sources really think that more regulations and tax dollars are needed? Give us a break!
America is becoming a “plutocracy,” governed by the wealthy or a controlling class of rich people.
Please consider that the top 18 federal government employees earned on average $180,000 during 2011, the top 18 public company chief executive officers earned on average $13.5 million, but the top 18 hedge fund (a private, unregulated investment bank) “managers” earned $654 million that year.
The top hedge fund manager earned $8 billion in just 2010-2011. However, these managers pay only 15 percent income tax. By comparison, middle class Americans earning between $17,000 and $69,000 pay 15 percent income tax, and families earning $69,000-$139,350 pay 25 percent. Hedge fund managers are paid 2 percent of the amount of funds under their personal “management,” plus 20 percent of annual profits, thus there is no reasonable argument for why this management fee is not considered ordinary salaried income – as opposed to capital gains – because the annual fee remains regardless of the investment risk involved, only its size changes.
These type of companies, including “leveraged buy-out firms” and those now known as “private equity firms,” buy public companies and drain the assets of these unfortunate companies into these managers’ pockets; how else could they earn such a high annual income? It comes from workers’ pensions, wages and salaries. Fewer than 10 percent of such purchased companies survive the experience. Mitt Romney “earned” $250 million this way. His 2011 annual income was $21 million on which he paid 13.9 percent income tax. The average income of the top 1 percent of U.S. families was $1.1 million, while the average of the lower 90 percent was $31,200.
If you would like to see this obviously unfair and inequitable situation changed, vote for Democratic candidates. Obama sought to tax only those receiving over $250,000 at a higher tax rate than this grossly unjust 15 percent, but wealthy Republicans blocked meaningful financial-services industry regulation. Apparently, Republicans voters earning less than $250,000 must be seriously confused about which side of their bread the butter is on.
Forty-six percent of all money given by lobbyists to Congress came from bankers, while 70 percent of deposits are controlled by the top four banks. Go figure.
As an opponent of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, I have read with dismay the letters of those who dispute the information concerning the negative impact of the terminal on the health, economy and environment of our area. The purpose of this letter is not to repeat the readily available facts. Rather, this letter is to ask concerned citizens to consider an aspect of the terminal which seems to garner less attention; namely, the wisdom of exporting the vast majority of the coal to China. The case against coal-burning in the U.S. is well-documented, yet many people hold the position that coal exported to China for burning is OK since it is “not in our backyard.” Prevailing winds will carry an appreciable amount of toxic pollution to our shores, just as tsunami debris is already here. The increased level of mercury measured in Lake Whatcom has been directly traced to coal-burning in China. More coal for China?
Coal-fired factories enable China to produce more cheap goods to compete with American products, exacerbating an already unfavorable balance of trade. Do we want more worker-abused electronic products?
Is it realistic to think the heavy tanker activity to and from Cherry Point is worth the risk of an accident? Ask Valdez residents. Perhaps exporting durable goods would make the risk more acceptable than taking the chance of ruining Puget Sound waters with toxic coal.
I have traveled extensively in China and have seen (and suffered with) Chinese who wear face masks in both urban and rural areas. As a former a military officer, I am concerned with the growing percentage of the Chinese budget devoted to military purposes. We should ask ourselves how fueling China’s economic, industrial and military development with our coal will benefit us.
Last December I wrote a letter stating that Birch Bay had two problems – lack of permanent restrooms and our chamber being excluded from determining the amount and use of their share of $153,000 of joint tourism funds. Instead the Mt. Baker chamber gets our funds. Can someone explain this to me? In January I sent Barbara Brenner an email concerning the tourism issue, specifically the exclusion of our chamber. She replied and referred me to Tawni Helms of Whatcom County. An exchange of emails with her followed with copy to Kathy Berg but not our chamber. Tawni stated that the first phase would consist of developing a business plan, headed by Kathy Berg and Carole McDonald with our chamber excluded. Tawni invited me to participate but since our chamber was being excluded, I declined her offer.
Previously, I had called the chamber president in December to tell him about The Northern Light article on this topic. He seemed upset and told me he was contacted previously and asked if the chamber wanted to participate and he gave them a positive reply and then never heard from anyone since.
After the email exchange, which included my complaining about excluding our chamber, the chamber president called me to tell me that he had “smoothed things” with Kathy and Carole and then ripped into me for complaining. I was shocked he capitulated to these women instead of politely informing them that our chamber should not have been excluded from this matter.
While Kathy and Doralee Booth do great work for our community, it seems Kathy wants the headlines.
The Birch Bay Steering Committee is a farce and exists in name only. They have not held a meeting in over two years and when truly functioning consisted of 22 UGA representatives and 8 non-UGA representatives plus sub-committee volunteers such as me. Several former members have expressed to me their concerns about the committee, leaving me with the impression that she wants to be the unofficial “Mayor of Birch Bay” with no accountability or responsibility.