Letters to the Editor: October 25 - October 31, 2012

Published on Wed, Oct 24, 2012
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The Editor:

This Saturday, October 27, is national Make a Difference Day. It is “a day of doing good.” The middle school and high school groups at St. Anne’s are holding their annual collection for Blaine Food Bank. 
Blaine Food Bank feeds 300 families in our community every week, and the need continues to grow. We will be out in neighborhoods collecting from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. If we miss you, please know that donations can be dropped off at St. Anne’s church. We will also be collecting at The Market at Birch Bay on Saturday, October 27, and donations can be dropped off there as well.  
Please, help us reach our goal this year. Together we can make a difference.

Ben Henrikson
Blaine

The Editor:

Having read some of the plans for the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT), which are available online, I am concerned about spontaneous combustion of Power River Basin (PRB) coal. According to the Major Project Permit and Shoreline Substantial Development Permit for GPT, the coal will ultimately be stored in five huge piles at the terminal site, which is adjacent to the Cherry Point Refinery. These piles will be at least 60 feet high and will cover a total area of 2.5 miles.  
It is documented that PRB coal is high moisture, highly volatile sub-bituminous coal that can easily smolder and catch fire while in storage piles. PRB coal has been delivered in rail cars partially on fire. Therefore, it seems likely that the piles of coal planned for storage at Cherry Point will be a fire hazard over time, and may cause fires. It is unsettling to realize that the terminal will be in close proximity to the Cherry Point Refinery. Because of frequent strong winds that buffet the coast, fire at one location could ignite fire in the other. No amount of surface water in the form of rain or spray will change the potential for smoldering coal deep within the piles. Water that lands on the coal piles will likely cause additional problems with toxic runoff and environmental contamination.
Stockpiles of coal are known to emit concentrations of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and hydrocarbons such as methane and propane. If there is a fire at the coal terminal, additional toxic gases will be released into the atmosphere, quite the same as if we were burning the coal here instead of in Asia. The idea of toxic plumes of chemicals such as mercury, sulfur and other heavy metals does nothing to make those of us who live in close proximity to the terminal feel safe and secure.   
Where there is coal, there will be fire danger. When we, the public, are invited to express our concerns about GPT, we should ask for in-depth study of managing the obvious fire hazards.

Christine Westland
Blaine

The Editor:

Two debates filled with sophomoric silliness. Trying to score points against each other like it is “American Idol.” No real discussion of principles and principled solutions to our problems. Nothing proposed will improve anything substantially even if implemented. We have one party with somewhat differing slogans due to the color of their hat. Based on these debates, and everything else heard so far in this campaign, I can’t see any reason to vote for either of these guys. In fact I don’t want either of them to be President.
Absent Ron Paul, I wish Gary Johnson had been allowed on the stage, but I see that neither candidate would have agreed to have him there. Gary would have proposed reasoned, principled solutions worthy of serious debate. Too many people would have been able to see behind the curtain, and realize that the Wizard is in fact co-joined twins, sharing (at most) a single brain. And that the show is just show biz, with lots of smoke and mirrors. Since the duopoly controls the debates, they don’t have to risk that, and so they don’t.
I grieve for the Republic. I don’t know how we will ever fix it until/unless more people wake up and vote the rascals out and vote good, principled people in (assuming enough will run for office). I fear this mess will end, not just badly, and not just in tears, but in blood as well. We are well down the slippery slope to serfdom.
Meanwhile, I will vote for Gary Johnson and for a few Republicans (Overstreet, Buys) and judges (Sanders, Grant) that meet my personal sniff test. Sadly that does not include many offices. In several races, I will just write in somebody, anybody.

Ron Bailey
Birch Bay

The Editor:

I will be voting for Judge Dave Grant for Whatcom County Superior Court.
Grant is endorsed by almost all Whatcom County mayors and police chiefs. It would appear they think he balances criminal justice with compassion, and this would make Whatcom County and Bellingham a safer place to live.
In contrast, Dave Grant’s opponent seems to have had a long and successful career in labor law. Is this what is needed for Superior Court? I don’t think so.
Grant’s opponent appears to report most of her campaign funds coming from Seattle and King County. Why would out-of-county supporters go against local law enforcement and mayors? What kind of values might outsiders want to impose on you and me?
Do we really need a labor relations lawyer who will likely be on a huge learning curve, or a ready to run, highly respected judge for this position? You decide.

John Kirk
Sumas

The Editor:

Deborra Garrett would make an excellent Superior Court Judge. She has maintained an unbiased attitude and is supported by people across the political, economic and legal spectrum. Deborra has represented people and businesses in all the areas the superior court represents, including criminal law, family law, child welfare, business disputes, employment, wills and probates and real estate.
Deborra has demonstrated her integrity and high degree of caring for the people of our community with her many hours volunteering with the Womencare shelter, YWCA, Meridian High School Mock Trial Team, Bellingham Planning Commission, Mayors Neighborhood Advisory Commission and Law Advocates. She is currently the president of the Whatcom Bar Association. She has been an arbitrator of Whatcom County Superior Court since 1987. She has maintained a successful law practice while raising children who are now successful young adults. We need a woman with this kind of energy and broad experience representing us. Please join me in supporting Deborra Garrett.

Sheri Lambert
Bellingham

The Editor:

I am proud to endorse Deborra Garrett for the position of Whatcom County Superior Court Judge. I have known Deborra since I was eight years old. She has represented various members of my family as an attorney, including my much beloved late grandparents. Grandpa was a retired dairy farmer, a lifelong Whatcom County resident who was born and raised in Lynden, and Grandma grew up on South Hill in Bellingham. A situation arose when they needed an attorney to help care for another family member. Because Deborra had represented my injured father, a commercial fisherman and logger, and had treated him with compassion and fairness, Grandpa and Grandma decided to retain her services. They believed that Deborra treated them with honesty, respect, and, above all, that she explained the law to them in an approachable manner to help them through their situation.
For many years afterward Grandpa would say, “That Deborra Garrett is one smart gal!” I know that if elected, Deborra Garrett will treat those who come before her on the bench as individuals first. She will listen to the arguments and concerns of both sides with compassion and respect. Above all, she will treat all who come into her courtroom fairly and impartially. I urge you all to join with me and vote for that “smart gal” Deborra Garrett for Whatcom County Superior Court Judge!

Mary L. Dickinson
Bellingham

The Editor:

This is a very strange election. After all, when is the last election you can remember in which the Republican candidates voted for the Democratic incumbents? But that’s what is happening this year. 
Let me tell you how I know. When candidate Romney made his infamous 47% comments, everyone focused, understandably, on the apparent contempt he had for tens of millions of Americans. What struck me, though, was how sure he was that this 47% was committed to voting for the President—and that both Romney and Ryan are part of that 47%.
After all, Romney’s father was on public assistance when he first came to this country. Ryan used his father’s social security benefits to pay for college. This is exactly the sort of assistance Romney condemned, and he was sure these would equate to voting for the President. Therefore…Romney and Ryan will be voting Democrat.
It has to be the case. Well, I guess there are other options. Romney could be inconsistent. Romney could be dishonest. But I’d hate to suggest either one of those conclusions of a man running for the highest office in the land. Therefore, there is only one logical conclusion: Romney and Ryan will be voting Democrat.
I thank candidate Romney for this striking honesty.

Greg Beatty 
Bellingham

The Editor:

As Meridian High School’s mock trial coach I wish to express my support for Deborra Garrett for Superior Court Judge. Deborra has been an amazing role model to students at Meridian for the past 11 years, displaying integrity and unbiased, independent thinking. Her vast experience in all types of law has provided us with insight in both criminal and civil cases. Deborra’s command of the rules of evidence has made her an invaluable resource.
However, it is not just her broad knowledge and intelligence that has led me to support her campaign. It is her integrity. Deborra has continually shown the young people at Meridian what it means to respect all opinions and listen to all perspectives. She pushes the students to think about how others would view the arguments they are developing, playing the devil’s advocate in every situation.
Furthermore, I believe it is critical that we have a Superior Court Judge that understands the law from many perspectives, especially that of regular people and small businesses. It also is about time that we had a female judge in Whatcom County!  

Steve Lawrence
Bellingham

The Editor:

I am a third generation Bellingham resident whose family’s roots date back to 1865 when my grandfather moved to Bellingham. Growing up, my family lived off of Eldridge Drive so life along the rail is something I am very familiar with. None of these scare tactics like fugitive coal dust and increased diesel exhaust that opponents of the Gateway Pacific Terminal preach have virtue. If what they say is true, then why is there no evidence of negative train impacts from the last 110+ years of rail industry? 
I laugh at how opponents depict the railroad as evil. Growing up we fished off the tracks and now that is where I take my grandson to see the “choo-choos.” They fail to realize how vital rail transport is to our everyday lives. Expanding on a growing and efficient industry is just logic. It is because of industries such as the GPT that families like mine are able to set stakes and make Whatcom County their home. Industries like GPT provide opportunities for residents to earn a family wage. As a union shop steward, I know the economic impacts of this project will positively impact Bellingham and Whatcom County. Supporting the Gateway Pacific Terminal will get Whatcom County back to work.

Mike Holcomb
Bellingham

The Editor:

Let’s get some accurate information about coal trains through Bellingham. In general I support the coal terminal at Cherry Point, but certain direct environmental impacts from trains need to be studied, namely train noise, horn noise and traffic congestion. We also need a definitive statement from the agencies as to why public money has historically been used to offset the cost of overpasses and quiet zones. It is not good enough for BNSF to say no more than, “We will only provide 5 percent of that cost.” 
There is so much misinformation about two main health aspects of coal trains: coal dust and diesel particulates from trains in transit. I do not know why BNSF has been so slow to respond and refute this nonsensical information. Their lack of responsiveness has allowed the opponents to gain a foothold.
There was never any coal dust from trains passing through Bellingham. There was substantial coal dust at the loading terminals in Wyoming that became a tariff dispute with the coal companies and is now resolved. Now we have shaped loads and polymers to eliminate dust at the loading terminals. This myth is so strong that a definitive statement from the first EIS for Cherry Point will also help the other terminals.
The second aspect is emissions of diesel particulates. Opponents will not acknowledge that EPA Tier 4 rules will lower emissions from rail diesels substantially. Maybe BNSF can provide a projection of emissions over the next 15 years as new locomotives continue to be introduced, as they did for the South Coast study in California. We also need a study of particulate emissions from other sources in Whatcom County such as road vehicles to show that the contribution from rail diesels will be tiny.
If the terminal is not built, there will still be coal trains passing through Bellingham on the way to Canada albeit at a lower traffic level than if the terminal were built but at least the same level since 1987. We all need a complete accurate understanding of the impact of trains through Whatcom County in the future.

Ian Millar
Bellingham

The Editor:

I am a local homeowner, and my husband and I are contributors to our tax revenue base. We believe in a new direction for Whatcom County’s business workforce. Simply put, cultivate increase and a significant expansion of private companies and businesses locally. Get the people back to work by adding more employees into our local workforce and stimulating our economic growth. This is why we are in support of the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point, which will add approximately 1,200 new jobs locally and will be environmentally sound, implementing federal and state standards. It will also increase Whatcom County’s annual tax revenue and stimulate a healthy economy for Whatcom County.

Kerry Chappell
Bellingham

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