Letters to the Editor, October 8-14, 2020


The Editor:

Lynden is a basketball town so may recognize that the "winningest coach in state history"(Seattle Times) passed away on Monday, September 14. Coach Ed Pepple (882-237) at Mercer Island won 23 King County conference titles. He encouraged his players to emphasize "we, us and our" over “I, me, my and mine." Most people have a deep moral sense of concern for the community at large, the team "we, us, and our" concept. I support Sharon Shewmake and Alicia Rule as 42nd Legislative District candidates because they are "we, us and our" thinkers.

Jennifer Sefzik uses F.I.R.E. characterizing her campaign. Financial responsibility, individual rights, local interests and limited environmental policy might be her personal principles, and are great goals, but they would not be the best representation for our whole 42nd district.

Sharon Shewmake and Alicia Rule are open to serve with representation for all. Alicia, a family counselor, and Sharon, agricultural economics professor, seek to work on green transportation, rural childcare, improved data collection reflecting state needs and how to best use our resources, creating good jobs throughout the district, supporting good education and honoring veterans: "We, us and our" concepts.

Principles are important and most candidates on the ballot are personable and highly principled. Vote for the seekers of the "we, us, and our" team makers.

Donna Starr


The Editor:

The Semiahmoo board of directors has taken it upon themselves to hire a consulting firm to assist us in the management of SRA Business. This decision was made without your input. The reasons behind this decision are unclear, and at present the SRA board refuses to provide any information into their decision making process. Some things to consider:

  1. Why does the board feel we are no longer able to self-manage? What problem are they trying to solve? Did the board look at other options, other HOA best practices, seek assistance from the residents?
  2. How was the consulting firm selected? How many consulting firms were interviewed? Why was this firm selected over others? Did the firm provide references, aside from relying on industry reputation, and were they checked? Did we do a cost-benefit analysis of hiring the consulting firm versus continuing to self-manage? How does the board plan on paying the consulting fees? What is the exact total of the fees ($200,000-400,000)?
  3. The new buyer tax will be levied against all Semiahmoo homes sold. Did we consult any of our local realtors so that we have an idea of what the impact (if any) will be? What will the money, generated from the tax, be used for? Is it to pay the consulting firm or pay down our mortgage (meaning we are paying $200,000, conservatively, to gain $300,000).
  4. Why does the board not support putting a cap on board spending? How can the residents of Semiahmoo trust this board to do what's right, when they just committed us to spending $200,000 without our approval?

Until the Semiahmoo board of directors answers these questions, I urge all residents to vote no on the 2021 budget and yes on restricting the budget spending.

Donna Wendt


The Editor:

Having served on numerous boards, including (for one of us) the SRA Board, we understand the difficult decisions HOA boards face so it is with great reluctance that we find ourselves speaking out against the proposed SRA budget and in favor of the amendment restricting SRA Board expenditures.

Most concerns expressed to date relate to the engagement of a consultant and the amount of its fees and related expenses with no member input. Our concern is based on the imposition of buyer transfer fees on future property sales in our community, without disclosure to the SRA community of the risks involved in implementing such fees.

Under Washington law, such fees are prohibited. There are a few exceptions and the board believes its imposition of a transfer fee falls within one of them. The two of us, both attorneys, have serious concerns about the validity of this position. Our position has been independently confirmed by the attorney who represents our own condo association (the Marin), a respected attorney who specializes exclusively in Washington state HOA law.

While other attorneys may come out on the other side of this issue, it is clear that the law is not settled, as this law (passed in 2011) has not yet been interpreted by the courts. At some point, it will most certainly be tested. If Washington courts ultimately decide that the exception relied upon by the board is not available to HOAs like the SRA, under Washington law, the SRA (meaning all SRA residents) can be held liable for damages, including the return of the fees paid by buyers and their attorneys’ fees. We believe this to be an unacceptable risk to our community.

Peggy Richter and Alan Ogden


The Editor:

The Community Assistance Program will be providing Thanksgiving Dinner Baskets again this year for those in our community with financial need. Last year over 265 baskets were given out, and we anticipate the need will be as great, or greater, this year.

To fund this program, which is run completely by our fantastic volunteers, we rely solely on the generous contributions of community members and businesses. As we receive no government funding, your help is needed, If you have the means to help your neighbors in need, please mail your check to CAP Thanksgiving Basket Fund, P.O. Box 1067, Blaine, Washington 98231. CAP is a 501(c)(3) organization and is registered with the Washington Secretary of State; all donations are fully tax-deductible. Thank you for blessing those in our community who need it most.

The Thanksgiving basket program serves those with financial need, including families with children, senior, and those who are disabled, unemployed, or under-employed, who reside in Blaine, Birch Bay, Custer and Point Roberts. If you qualify and would like to receive a Thanksgiving dinner basket, you must make a reservation starting Friday, October 2nd and ending Friday, November 13. Please visit blainecap.org for registration and details.

Reservations can also be made by calling 360/383-8444 by Friday, November 13. A specific pick up time will be assigned to you once you are registered. Baskets will not be available without a reservation.

Shirley Tobian and Rhyan Lopez, Thanksgiving basket co-directors


The Editor:

In light of Covid-19, and real safety concerns shared by parents and health officials, there is a possibility that the 'Grinch' could steal Halloween this year. If permitted by the city, county, and state, the Blaine Food Bank is considering offering a safe alternative to traditional door-to-door and trunk-to-trunk trick or treating for children and their families.

Before we make a decision, we would like input from our community. Tentative plans are to decorate our all-weather open-air tent and set up different stations where children could trick or treat. In addition, we will have a decorated area for people to take photos of the children. Our volunteers would all be in costume, and every station would offer different decor and treats. The decorations and treats will all be provided by our volunteers. We would ask families to form a car queue, and remain in their warm cars until their turn. We would invite one family at a time to go through our tent. Only families in cars would be invited to participate, unless prior special arrangements were made. Masks and gloves would be required and provided, and all treats would be bagged.

Please visit our website at blainefoodbank.org by Saturday, October 17, and leave any thoughts on our contact page. A simple yes or no and, if yes, how many children would participate. We make this offer with a giving heart for our children who have missed so much this year, and with much gratitude for our community that has never forgotten hungry friends and neighbors.

Thank you all for your support, and please be safe.

Sally Church


The Editor:

After reading Mr. Green’s letter in The Northern Light, regarding SRA of Semiahmoo, I had to reply to correct some of the statements that he made. First, the board of directors of Semiahmoo was informed by the Whatcom County Fire Department it would be returning to the station. They wanted us to know we had to find a new office space and gave us several months to do so. The board was not caught off guard. It should be known the office workers were moved in three or four different locations attempting to keep the costs down and worker safety.

At the general membership meeting in 2018, the membership was informed the SRA was losing the office space at the fire station and the board were in the process of finding what could be done for the long-term use in both office space and the outside labor force.

As the last president of the SRA during this time, I personally drove throughout areas of Blaine and Birch Bay to find office space and a safe work area for the outside workers. Further, several other members of the board did the same. We reported what we found, or learned, back to the rest of the members of the board.

After many discussions by the board, and after checking out all of the possibilities that were available to us, it was determined the cost would be too high to “rent or lease” any facility that could handle both the office work force and labor work force.

If the board had chosen to lease, or rent a place able to meet its needs, it would have required a substantial raise in home owners’ dues. As it is, nothing other than the normal cost of living has made a small raise in dues. It should be noted, the value of property has increased, and if necessary, could be sold for cost of construction or more.

As to his problem with having a transfer fee paid by the buyer, I assume he would prefer to pay higher dues?

George McKinney


The Editor:

I reference a letter in your last edition that took issue with those who would urge lawmakers to wait until after Jan. 21,2017 to seat a new Supreme Court Judge.

For those who were in a coma in March of 2016, with 10 months left in his term of office, President Barack Obama’s court nominee was met with a giant stone wall built by Mitch McConnell.

So while we count all the deeds of fair play performed by the current occupant of the White House and the Republican senate over the last 3.5 years, let’s not be surprised when upcoming proceedings attempting to replace RBG are met with a vicious, bloodthirsty response from Democrats.

When this occurs, address your complaints to McConnell.

John Horgdal


The Editor:

Everyone has the right to express their opinion, and I don’t condone vandalizing political signs. However, it would be helpful to clarify what brand of socialism you abhor. Democrats don’t support autocratic socialism. Democratic socialism, which Bernie Sanders advocates and Biden does not, is one that promotes economic freedom, health care for all, a living wage, education, affordable housing and a clean environment.

As Harry Truman stated, “Socialism is a scare word they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years.” He also said that socialism is what they called public power, social security, farm price supports, bank deposit insurance, free and independent labor organizations. “Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people.”

Then there’s the kind of socialism for the wealthy. Jared Kushner received about $800 million in federally-backed debt to buy apartments in Maryland and Virginia – under very favorable terms. Profit projections for these investments were overly optimistic, meaning that us taxpayers would be on the hook for much of this money if Kushner Companies default.

The never-ending push by the Republican party to eliminate Social Security and Medicare continues under the Trump administration. Such is their definition of “socialism.”

I am more worried about a president who won’t commit to a peaceful transition, who refuses to renounce white supremacists and a party that has taken voter suppression to a new level, readying slates of Trump electors in states where he loses, overriding the will of the voters. I fear a party discrediting vote-by-mail and that has lawyers in multiple states filing lawsuits limiting citizens’ right to vote – all actions taken by dictatorships. The website propublica.org, under “Electionland 2020” has more.

In the middle of a pandemic, with millions having lost their jobs and health insurance, thousands of small businesses closing, large corporations (including Boeing) announcing thousands of layoffs, Mitch McConnell prioritizes pushing his third extreme right-wing justice on the bench, over the needs of the people.

These are the things that keep me up at night, not the scare tactics of a callous political party.

Carol Kemp

Birch Bay

The Editor:

Evergreen Progress 2020, a Republican PAC, is funding attack ads and flyers in our area against Democratic candidates for state office, stating that Sharon Shewmake is in favor of defunding the police.

Ms. Shewmake herself issued a statement on September 16, 2020 addressing this topic. She makes it clear that she does not plan to, nor has she ever supported removing police funding from the budget; in fact, she has voted for budgets that include funding for law enforcement. Ms. Shewmake states: “I hear from law enforcement that they want more mental health resources available to the public … This is one way the state can be part of the solution.”

She is working closely with Whatcom County’s top law enforcement officer, prosecutor Eric Richey, to fund Whatcom County’s crisis stabilization center. She believes that supporting law enforcement in doing their important and dangerous work to keep us safe can co-exist with supporting Black Lives Matter and everyone’s First Amendment right to political speech and opinions. I agree with Ms. Shewmake that these values and goals can, and should, co-exist. You can read her statement at bit.ly/34KFsDh.

Please visit Ms. Shewmake’s site at Sharon4Whatcom.com to learn more about her stand on the issues and her goals for helping Whatcom County to thrive.

Jennifer Plombon


The Editor:

Friends of Birch Bay Library (FOBBL) need our help. FOBBL is participating in a Community Thrives fundraising challenge to raise money towards their building project by October 16th. If they meet their goal, the project will be considered for a variety of grant awards. The library project needs those grant dollars badly. Donations must go through their MightyCause donation page to qualify for the grant awards. The minimum donation is $6, including the processing fee. Points are gained by the number of individual donors so please consider sharing this with your family, friends and social media. Thank you for supporting the Birch Bay Library Project: Acommunitythrives.mightycause.com/story/Fobbl.

Al Krause


The Editor:

Boy, was I surprised to turn on my local TV news channel a couple of days ago and see an attack ad on Sharon Shewmake, our current representative for the 42nd Legislative District in Olympia. Although she was pictured, this is not the Sharon Shewmake I know. This ad claimed she supports Black Lives Matter (yes, she does). It also claims she supports defunding the police (no, she does not).

Dr. Shewmake is eminently qualified to represent the 42nd district in Olympia. She is a professor of economics at Western Washington University, holds a PhD in agricultural economics, and is the only economist currently serving in the legislature. She is a tireless worker who delves into data with competence and enthusiasm. She is also an author, wife and mother. Frankly, I don’t know how she does it all.

The Sharon Shewmake I know works with others, listens and looks for practical solutions, making sure that nobody is left behind. Every one of her bills has either had Republican co-sponsors, overwhelming bi-partisan support, or both. She isn't afraid to take on tough topics but when she does, she works hard to reach out and reach across ideological divisions.

I invite voters to check out both candidate’s websites. You will not find unattractive pictures or name-calling of her opponent on Sharon’s website. Sadly, I cannot say the same of her opponent. Rather, you will find an amazing record of achievement in only two short years in office, and many ideas and positive plans for the future. Please vote early, and vote for Sharon Shewmake. The 42nd Legislative District deserves no less.

Nancy K. Sheng


The Editor:

From 1870 to 1955, Dunbar High School, a segregated Black school in Washington, D.C., achieved and retained high national scholastic standards during the period. “Alumni went on to some of the most elite colleges in the country, some graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard, Yale, Amherst and other top-tier academic institutions,” (page 96, “Charter Schools and their Enemies” by Thomas Sowell).

Despite this, the U.S. Supreme Court directed that all public schools be integrated with its Brown V. Board of Education ruling in 1954. Racial tension ensued with required busing. Among many solutions that were considered included the charter school. A recent study of charter schools in the New York city area produced general success in proficiency in the low-income areas of Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant and South Bronx. Such success was shared in other areas of the U.S.

How have these schools succeeded? They replicated Dunbar’s achievement by using a “real education” curriculum. So we’ll proclaim that, “mastery in mathematics and English (real education) can be a ticket out of poverty. (ibid. P.120)” Children taught real education can have a better life and society can have productive workers. Public schools (and those entities which control them) seek to now restrict and even destroy them, even here in Washington state. Envious of charter schools’ success, fearful of lazy teachers and the unions they finance, public schools are concerned that their socialist curriculum may one day be supplanted by the real education curriculum. But real education is central to any child’s educational development. School choice is critical and charter schools are but one viable option, parents and local school boards need to get involved. Voters must consider “real education” when they select who will be the next superintendent of public instruction in November. Don’t we all really want the best for the children? Consider charter schools.

Gerald Hulbert

The Editor:

Public Utility District 1 has been a true friend of farmers over the past decades. They have worked effectively on water issues affecting our farmers and industries. The PUD board and staff have been the best of allies for local farms.

It is crucial that we re-elect Jeff McClure to his seat on the PUD board. Jeff has the knowledge, experience and wisdom that is sorely needed as we work to resolve our natural resource conflicts.

The PUD is governed by a three-member board. Jeff has served well and deserves another term. This is not the time to redirect such an important partner.

Henry Bierlink


The Editor:

For freedom and safety, vote Sefzik and Van Werven. There are no personal freedoms when we are unsafe. So-called liberties mean nothing if we live in fear.

We covet the freedom to worship, think and speak our minds. We need the freedom to love and be with the people we care for. We value the freedom to work safely and run our businesses. We guard the freedom to raise and educate our children as we see fit. We cherish the freedom to take a chance, start of company, experience something new here in beautiful Whatcom County.

But we are concerned about a dogma emerging that we don’t need police, that violent riots, as opposed to peaceful assemblies, are okay, that police departments should be defunded, and that “All Cops Are B******.”

That is why we support two candidates for the 42nd district who consistently stand against such foolishness and understand that without law, order and justice we cannot be free.

We support both Luanne Van Werven and Jennifer Sefzik, both of whom have the backs of both local law enforcement and every citizen – regardless of political party, religious views, culture or race.

Join us in voting for two smart, dedicated and highly-committed women: Jennifer Sefzik and Luanne Van Werven.

Jon and Diane Mutchler


The Editor:

I believe we need widespread implementation of frequent, rapid coronavirus testing in this country. This is the best way to get us back to some semblance of normal. Here is a website spelling out the rationale and with links for you to contact Congress and your governor with letters asking for them to act on this. Please check it out and take action. Rapidtests.org.

Bill Ciao, DMD



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