Letters to the Editor: February 14-20, 2019

The Editor:
Public education is a hot topic in our state. I would like to know why we have so many school districts in Whatcom County as opposed to the Seattle school district, which has one. Seattle has 102 schools in their one district, all managed by one superintendent. Whatcom County has seven districts with seven superintendents. Yes, I know that sounds like an old movie, let’s move on.
Each of our superintendents make over $100,000 in salary, bonuses and benefits. My question is how can the Seattle superintendent do her job making a bit over $303,000 per year, while we need seven superintendents with combined salaries in excess of $700,000 to do the same? To put this in perspective, Bellingham has 24 schools, Blaine 6, Ferndale 12, Lynden 7, Meridian 6, Mount Baker 7, and Nooksack 8. I propose we reduce our county’s number of districts to one, with one superintendent, and one staff in one central location. Then let’s do this all over the state, reduce costs and pass that along to teachers and students.
Guy Smith
Birch Bay

The Editor:
Clearing up some myths and lies about single-payer health care.
Myth #1: Single payer is government run health care.
Veterans Affairs is a type of government run health care. The doctors, nurses and staff are government employees and get their paychecks from the U.S. government.
Under single payer, you get a health-care card and you go to any doctor in the U.S. Hospitals remain privately-held.
Myth #2: Single payer will lead to rationing.
Private insurance companies, ever in search of larger profit margins, ration care now. If you don’t have insurance, you don’t get care, except in emergency rooms, where the cost is the highest. That’s nearly 30 million of us. Single payer avoids that by insuring everyone.
Myth #3: Costs will skyrocket under single payer.
Single payer is the only form of health care that will save the government enough to cover the costs of insuring everyone. $500 billion is what the private companies take down per year in profit and administration costs. Medicare has traditionally run at 3 to 4 percent admin costs, not the 15 to 20 percent of private insurers, to say nothing of the profit they take.
Myth #4: Drugs will be more difficult to get and more expensive.
Many drug discoveries and trials are performed at public university medical centers and the National Institutes of Health at your expense already. Under single payer, we would have the buying leverage of scale to bargain for these drugs, making them cheaper to buy.
Myth #5: Single payer covers less than the insurance I have now.
All medically necessary care will be funded through single payer. Doctor visits, hospital care, prescriptions, nursing care, rehab, home care, eye and dental care. Elective surgeries may still require insurance or out-of-pocket payment.
Myth #6: Single-payer will cost me more.
If you now pay around $7,000 to $8,000 per year to insure your family, with a $4,000 deductible, the taxes you pay to support single-payer will be nowhere near that. You will save money. No more bills. No more deductibles. No more co-pays. No more bankruptcies.
Check out citizen.org for more info.
Gary Meader

The Editor:
Without additional information, the citizens of Blaine are left to fill in the blanks about the reasons for the resignation and payout of $28,000 to former police chief Allen Shubert. At face value, the city of Blaine has made a monumental mistake. I hope my assumption is proven wrong, but the city must provide a detailed account of their decisions; citing “personal reasons” for his exit is not going to be sufficient.
We are now stuck with two expenditures of $17,000; the first to find Shubert and the second to find his replacement, plus a payout for his severance of $28,000. The silence thus far by city officials is unacceptable and begs strong action on the part of the citizens of Blaine.
Kevin Faulkner
(Ed. Note: The search firm is contractually required to find another candidate without charge.)

The Editor:
Some days you’re gifted with some wonderful human beings who have good intentions, and I had the pleasure to have met one of them. I am very thankful and grateful for this wonderful soul as a few months back I had lost my cardholder with some very important cards and to replace some of the cards was going to be expensive. I was feeling some stress about it after I looked for days. I was having a discussion with my father saying, “I will let the creator take this stress and I ask to be guided in a good way.” I made a choice to just let it go and trust that it will all work out in the end.
At that very moment, there was a knock at my door and my father and I looked at one another, as I wasn’t expecting company. I went to the door and there was this elderly gentleman standing there with his hands on his hips asking me if I was glad to see him. This man had this contagious smile on and I smiled and replied, “It depends.”
As I opened the door, I noticed something in his hand and I smiled and hugged him. This gentleman had found my cardholder and came to return it to me. As I embraced this elderly gentleman I felt such a relief and I gave thanks to the higher power for this gentlemen. He told of how he found my cardholder. He went to check the mail, and as he approached the holder, he found the cards spread out like a deck of cards. I hugged him again and he smiled and shared a few laughs and stories with my dad. I wanted to give him something for gratitude, but he refused. He did say to write a letter to The Northern Light about our meeting. When we said goodbye, I told him that I would hold him in my prayers and thoughts and he said thank you.  Everyday I give thanks for this elderly gentleman by the name of Mr. Wardener.
Laurie Ahdemar

The Editor:
We are residents of Semiahmoo and also property owners in Birch Bay, which gives me some license for my comments. Development is worthwhile and inevitable, but in our opinion Birch Bay shows what can happen if you have no sense of aesthetics and allow development just because you can. Really, for the planning commission to see the Woodberry development as comparable to the Semiahmoo development is really disappointing.
The question I would start with is how did this parcel ever get removed from the Semiahmoo plan and why? That mistake by a previous city council should be revisited and the players in that action exposed. Start there.
I have read where the Haugen’s claim to be “stewards of the land.” Really? They will be until they cash out of this and go to a beach, leaving the Semiahmoo community with an eyesore. Threaten to clear the land and farm it? Thank you, that’s preferable to the development you propose. I would rather look at fields than Birch Bay-style development along that parkway. That’s not what they want of course, selling the lots and cashing out that way is what this is all about. Libertarians like to make money too, especially if they don’t have any skin in the game when they are done.
The poor staff at the planning commission are in a no-win situation. It’s the city council that needs to stop this silliness and threat to the values of the biggest tax base the city of Blaine has. Semiahmoo also represents a significant portion of the voting base of this city.
Make no mistake this time, city council: If you allow this type of lower end development in this area, your precedent will attract more make-a-buck development in the area and open up Pandora’s box.
Jay and Susie Tyrrell

The Editor:
One of the jewels in Blaine’s crown is in danger of losing its luster. The Semiahmoo Parkway has been described as entering a state or national park – leafy and well wooded – with developments discretely hidden from the Parkway.
The 10-acre Woodberry development – fronting on the Parkway – potentially tarnishes this, our jewel – especially, as reported in The Northern Light – the developer’s attorney threatens to clear cut the entire 10 acres regardless of the planning commission’s recommendation on the project.
What is equally disturbing is the thought that we may lose this jewel entirely if future Woodberries are allowed to proliferate on the parkway, which existing regulations allow. And how will this affect another of our jewels – the Semiahmoo Resort – whose primary access is from the parkway. The resort management must shudder at the thought, and give council members something to lose sleep over.
Let our council members know how you feel. Tomorrow is in our hands.
Stan Monks

The Editor:
In the matter of Blaine City Council grants police chief $28,000 severance in executive session:
1) To find the best fit, why not appoint a citizen council chaperoned by a city council representative to solicit applicants, examine applications, check references etc.?
2) Who is the attorney who drew up his contract and why was there not a clause stating that if the contract is terminated by the chief of police within six months then no severance is due?
3) The people of Blaine deserve a detailed explanation from both the city council and Mr. Schubert.
4) The Northern Light does a serviceable job of reporting civic events and high school happenings. Everybody likes the crossword puzzle.
The people of Blaine deserve more. Do a background story – who are these consultants Blaine hires in lieu of utilizing local expertise? What is their relationship to the local government officials? If there are inequities print that.
5) The announcement of the chief’s resignation should have been made public in time for citizens to attend the city council meeting where the matter of severance could have then been addressed.
6) The fact that this was rushed through behind closed doors with no written record of discussion, leads to speculation and innuendo.
7) The handling of this matter in an “executive session” and then keeping those details a secret is malfeasance of the public trust.
8) A complete and thorough review of the former chief’s statements before, during and after the hiring process should have been reviewed before any vote on severance pay.
9) City council protocol should be changed to allow for public discourse, before incidental exemptions are made to the city budget.
The manner in which this affair was handled by the city council is unacceptable. It would have been acceptable to make the decision regarding severance pay the following week – after due diligence. The people of Blaine deserve honest answers from their representatives, regardless of how messy that disclosure may be.
The time has come to demand that citizens take an active part in the city council and that the council respect and adhere to the citizens’ best interests.
Benn Brechnitz

  1. Maybe an audit of the Blaine Police Department by an outside agency would help the community understand? Then the community can decide where to place the blame.


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