Letters to the editor: September 12-18, 2013

Published on Wed, Sep 11, 2013
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The Editor: 
In May of this year an article appeared in the National Journal entitled “The obscure county election that could change the planet” (nationaljournal.com/magazine/the-obscure-county-election-that-could-change-the-planet-20130523).
The National Journal is a publication dedicated to providing information about our government. This article refers to next month’s county election, when voters will choose four new county council members to fill pending vacancies. It points to the fact that the Whatcom County Council will cast the final vote, in the not-too-distant future, whether to approve or reject the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) project permits.
Whatcom County may be relatively “obscure,” but that does not mean that what happens here is not important. In fact, what happens here in regard to GPT may set a precedent and have effects globally. As responsible citizens and voters, we have an obligation to be informed and knowledgeable about this very important issue.
Many people do not know a lot about this project and may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Isn’t it going to mean more jobs? Isn’t it going to mean more revenue for our county? 
If you are interested in learning important details and information about GPT and how it will affect our daily lives, our economy and resources, our well-being and our environment, consider attending a free public information forum, scheduled for Saturday, September 21 at 6 p.m. in Birch Bay. It will take place at Birch Bay Horizon Park Activity Center, 7511 Gemini Street (off Alderson Road, east of The C Shop). 
This event is being organized by a group of concerned citizens in Birch Bay who are interested in raising awareness and sharing information about GPT and coal ports in general. The agenda includes notable speakers, information tables, live music (Dana Lyons) and refreshments. This is an excellent opportunity for Birch Bay residents and others who are interested to obtain factual information about GPT in a casual, friendly setting.
Christine Westland
Birch Bay

The Editor:
Blaine’s vintage 1949 American La France fire engine has found a new home.
I was 11 years old when the Blaine volunteer fire department purchased this new fire engine, greatly enhancing the firefighters’ ability to protect our private and commercial properties. Blaine residents of all ages were thrilled and proud to see this modern beauty parked in our fire hall, ready for action. Now that it has been given away it is an important piece of Blaine’s rich heritage down the tube. Very sad.
John T. Breidford

The Editor:
I want to thank pastor David Riddle and his wife Gail as well as the other members of the Freedom Fellowship Church on G Street for making the Lettered Streets Neighborhood Association barbecue a great success. Members of the church and the neighborhood came out, had some great food and a great time. It was nice to see neighbors I had not seen in a while and meet some new neighbors. I want to invite everyone from the neighborhood to come out the next barbeque we will be having in the spring!
I also want to thank officer Landis of the Blaine Police Department for coming and listening to the concerns of the neighbors and interacting with the children at the event. The kids loved listening to you, learning about what you do and looking at your equipment. I think that was a highlight for a lot of the kids!
I also wanted to thank all of my neighbors for the time and dedication that you have given in helping to address issues and crime in the neighborhood over the last six months. I want to encourage everyone from the neighborhood who has issues they want addressed or just wants to meet some neighbors and get to know what is going on in the numbered and lettered streets to contact us at BlaineLSN@gmail.com.
Again thanks so much to pastor David and Gail Riddle, officer Landis and all the neighbors that made this event a fun time for everyone!
Eric and Jeanette Davidson
Blaine Lettered Streets Neighborhood 
Association and Crime Watch

The Editor:
For many reasons, November’s county council elections are tremendously important, and may well have impacts far beyond our small corner of the country.
Emblematic of this significance, I believe, is the issue of Washington state’s Growth Management Act (GMA). Drafted to protect agricultural lands while encouraging sensible urban growth, the GMA has been on the books for 23 years. All 39 Washington counties comply with its provisions except one – Whatcom County.
All this time, our county council has been dragging its feet, resisting enforcement of the GMA while facilitating developers’ steady encroachment into rural areas. The council has spent at least $150,000 of our tax money hiring pricey Seattle lawyers to fight the GMA over and over again, losing virtually every time. The uncertainty this creates in county development policy makes Whatcom County a much less attractive destination for entrepreneurs looking to invest here and create new jobs.
Two council members seeking reelection have consistently voted to defy the GMA and waste taxpayers’ money on these 
fruitless lawsuits: Kathy Kershner and Bill Knutzen.
Barry Buchanan and Rud Browne are campaigning to replace Kershner and Knutzen. I have met and listened to both of them. Both have distinguished records as civic activists and small business owners. 
On the GMA, Lake Whatcom water quality, and other critical issues they will represent the interests of all county residents, not just a fringe who insist on flouting the law of the land. Please vote for Buchanan and Browne, and for a sound, sustainable future for all of Whatcom County.
Ken Kaliher

The Editor:
The upcoming elections for Whatcom County Council could hardly be more important for the future of our community. County council members in the next four years will decide about the coal export terminal and the major capital construction expense of a new jail. They will also deal with a number of issues that the current council has been unable to resolve: protecting Lake Whatcom, water rights in the Nooksack watershed and figuring out how to comply with state law on growth. I take these issues seriously and urge you to do the same.
Most of our local, elected officials on either side have good hearts, but some seem to lack good decision making skills. For the past four years we have had a real lack of leadership. Council members need to know the facts and details along with the big picture. The council has spent a lot of time (and legal bills) refusing to follow state law, and has failed to oversee the jail development, clarify water rights for farmers and landowners or make strong decisions on Lake Whatcom.
Two council members have done their best, although outvoted in the minority: Ken Mann and Carl Weimer. We must send them back, along with new allies Rud Browne and Barry Buchanan. 
Please join me in voting for a stronger, wiser council.
Janet Ott

The Editor:
I had a chance to talk with Rud Browne the other day. Rud is running for Whatcom County Council. He shares my views on issues that are important to my community and me. 
Rud believes in a jail that has the aspect of not just incarceration, but also rehabilitation, especially in regards to literacy. He believes that decisions as a county council member should be based on the question, “Is it good for businesses?” Strong, healthy businesses mean living wage jobs, and Rud has solid experience in this area; his company, Ryzex, provided 140 jobs in Whatcom County.
Rud is a rare combination of a conservative and conservationist. He supports property rights but believes that we do not live in isolation, and we need to also be responsible to the environment where our neighbors live. He is a much better fit as a county council member than his opponent. Rud has much more business experience and has also served on a dozen community organizations versus the one that Bill Knudzen served on when Knudzen started in office.
Rud is willing to understand both sides of every issue and find common ground. And in addition to all of this, he’s a pretty humble guy. He has my vote for county council.
Nancy Orlowski

The Editor:
SSA Marine’s GPT coal terminal advertisements attempt to deceive us by omitting and twisting facts. None mentions that GPT would have six-story-high, 2.5-mile-long uncovered coal stockpiles that would be fully exposed to the wind and rain. And claiming that coal trains have been traveling through Washington state for decades without coal dust complaints just doesn’t ring true with locals. People who have lived here for years know that there were virtually no coal trains traveling through Whatcom County before 2008 and at most there are now four coal trains a day. 
Yet in only five years these four daily coal trains have generated so many complaints and caused so much pollution that the railroad is being sued for fouling Washington’s waters with coal dust. Since GPT would add 18 coal trains every day, GPT would pollute as much in one year as all the trains to Canada do in five years.
The ads also deceive by promoting SSA Marine as simply a local company. SSA Marine is 51 percent owned by the Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs. This is the same Goldman Sachs that was significantly responsible for the 2008 financial collapse that hurt so many of us and our property values. This is the same Goldman Sachs that was a recipient of billions of dollars of government bailout money that angered so many people.
Now this same Goldman Sachs wants to put the biggest uncovered coal stockyard in North America in our community and run 18 coal trains per day, 365 days a year through our neighborhoods constantly polluting our air, our water, our property, blocking us at railroad crossings for 2-3 hours a day, and keeping us awake at night. 
These Goldman Sachs executives and their families don’t live in Blaine, Birch Bay, Ferndale or Whatcom County; they don’t breathe our air, their children don’t play in our neighborhoods, they don’t go to sleep at night and wake up every morning living their lives in our community. That’s too bad for them and for us because, if they lived here, they would fight to stop GPT. 
Paula Rotondi
Birch Bay

The Editor:
We wanted to follow up and let everyone know that thanks to the efforts of our wonderful sponsors, the public market vendors, the talents and time of our bands and the generosity of our wonderful community the total donated amount to our four nonprofits for the 2013 Birch Bay Music Festival was $7,543. Until next year! 
Tammy Pearce
Birch Bay Music Festival Team

The Editor:
Save NW Park and Rec – Vote Yes November 5.
Northwest Park and Recreation District 2 will run out of funding very soon.
If you would like to help pass the levy for future funding to save the robust menu of classes, sports, recreation activities, events and the wonderful Activity Center facility serving the Blaine and Birch Bay communities, please join with other like-minded folks at 7 p.m. on Monday, September 23 at the activity center located in Bay Horizon Park to get handouts and plan strategy to pass the levy of $.10/thousand of accessed property value. That amounts to $20 per year on a home valued at $200,000.
To learn more about the program visit nwparkandrec.org.
We hope to see you then,
Kathy Berg and Doralee Booth
Birch Bay

The Editor:
As the local campaign season gets started, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. Some candidates running for re-election or for higher office seem to be campaigning against the government that they’ve been in charge of. For example, a flyer that was circulated recently alleges that county policies are hurting farmers, but the flyer endorses the people who are currently running the county! These folks are a bit confused, or maybe a bit dishonest. Either way, they’re not the people I want making decisions for Whatcom County.
I don’t believe it’s fair for elected officials to point fingers about a problem they’ve had the chance to solve. Kathy Kershner has been chair of the county council for two years. She and Bill Knutzen have been part of the majority for four years. Michelle Luke is chair of the Whatcom County planning commission and Ben Elenbaas is part of a conservative majority there. These people have held the power for years. They should own up to the results.
I agree that we should vote to protect farmers and farmland; I also agree that the folks we elected haven’t done that. I’ll be voting for change in November: Ken Mann, Carl Weimer, Rud Browne and Barry Buchanan.
Carolyn McCarthy

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