Hugh Foulke, a Ferndale school district board member, has been using his elected position to garner support for the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT), a special interest of his. When he expresses strong support for GPT, he states that he’s a Ferndale school board member, thus giving the impression that the school board also supports GPT.
Mr. Foulke has spoken publicly at events like the GPT environmental impact statement (EIS) scoping hearing in Ferndale. At the Seattle GPT EIS scoping hearing he gave a statement to the media that was published in Yahoo Finance, The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch and other publications. He has a pro-GPT video on YouTube, again stating he’s a Ferndale school board member.
Mr. Foulke has been on GPT’s Facebook page, and continues to allow photos, video and written statements of his to be used by Alliance For Northwest Jobs and Exports and the Northwest Jobs Alliance, which are groups created expressly for the purpose of promoting GPT by the public relations firms working for SSA, the company behind GPT.
I believe Mr. Foulke is in violation of Ferndale school board’s code of ethics: taking any private action that might compromise the board, and surrendering independent judgment to special interest or partisan political groups.
I went to the January Ferndale school district board meeting and spoke about this to get it on public record. I’ve communicated with board president Lee Ann Riddle and district superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn and they said they can’t force Mr. Foulke to refrain from doing this. Quinn said that the code of ethics is “a gentleman’s agreement,” so he’s not breaking a law. She said, “I’ve informed director Foulke that, just as his position is granted through a vote of the people, the people can ‘un-elect’ him as well, either through the regular ballot process or by initiating a recall petition.”
Mr. Foulke should have his support statements removed from websites and the “Statements of Support” documents (created by Northwest Jobs Alliance) that are now in Whatcom County’s public records, so the public is not misled by his aligning GPT with Ferndale schools.
There is a debate in Olympia right now over the proposed initiative that would require labeling Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in grocery stores. Those opposed say that there are no dangers to GMOs, that they are no different from their unmodified counterparts (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one), food will be more expensive and such labeling is the responsibility of the federal government.
To these people I would say that every health advocate I know at Western Washington University as well as documentaries like Food Inc. and Hungry for Change assert that whole foods are best for your health. ‘Whole’ foods are those that exist without any production line or laboratory – you can go out and find them as the earth produced them.
In my opinion, GMOs are too new for us to fully understand their long-term effects on health. Scientists first began to modify the DNA of livestock and plants to protect them from diseases, herbicides and pesticides.
That is all well and fine but I would like to know what -cides are going into the food I eat and I would like to know why corporations feel that labeling their foods is too onerous a request. Transparency is nothing to fear for a company that has the public good in its interest.
I do not believe the government is efficient enough to label GMOs itself nor do I believe that corporations will do so of their own volition – it will be done only if we demand it of our representatives in Olympia.
Companies like Monsanto are too big for citizens to fight on our own and we need moral politicians to demand action. To those who are interested in “going green” but are not sure where to start, watch the aforementioned documentaries and take a trip to the food co-ops in Bellingham. You feel better when you eat clean.
Those foods may be more expensive but I ask you, what is more worthy of your money than you and your family’s health?
Soon after I first arrived in Blaine nearly 37 years ago, I heard a comment made by a public official that, “There must be a magnet buried in Blaine, as every nut in the nation seems to end up here.”
Well, 42nd District State House Representative Jason Overstreet has proved to be the undisputed “Iron Man.”
What an embarrassment he is to our community and our state.