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Letters to the Editor, Week of Sept. 28, 2022


We have lived in Whatcom County for 55 years and love it. Most of the time. (Not the Northeasters.)

I would like to encourage voters to vote for Alicia Rule and Sharon Shewmake in the 42nd District. Over a year ago we sent two emails to all three of the 42nd District legislators regarding a loophole in the seniors’ property tax break. I immediately got a response from Alicia and Sharon after the first email. Not even a “thank you for writing” response from Simon Sefzik. Both Alicia and Sharon started looking into what could be done and worked on the issue.

To be honest, I wasn’t surprised. Simon’s predecessor, Doug Ericksen, rarely responded to calls or emails.

After all these years living here, we have noticed this before … the Republicans in office don’t really care about the “little people.” Most of us don’t have much money to donate to their candidacy.

We will be voting for Sharon and Alicia and urge all you “little” people to vote for them also. If you want something done … they will get it done.

Mac and Donna Macomber



Whatcom County, like much of the nation, lacks sufficient quality child care and educational opportunities for children from birth to age 5.

The Healthy Children’s Fund, Proposition 5, is a property tax levy on the November ballot. Proposition 5 has not been adequately explained to voters. Who allocates the tax funds? Will funds go to for-profit entities? Only nonprofit? Will religious-based child care organizations receive funds? Who provides oversight? What are the plans to assess quality? Who assesses quality? How often will assessments be given to the public?

There is broad public support for early childhood education and child care programs, but to what extent is this a public or private responsibility?

One rationale for Proposition 5 is that it would enable parents to more easily and confidently participate in the labor force. The child care crisis is weighing on labor force participation, particularly among mothers. When it comes to paying into a functional child care system, businesses are freeloaders. One option is lawmakers should consider a small employer child care payroll tax that is not passed on to employees.

Businesses pay property taxes at the state and local level, but businesses do not contribute a cent of dedicated funding to child care. Or, short of levying an additional tax on businesses, why not permanently allocate a portion of business property taxes to child care?

Early child care programs serve academic and socioemotional ends, too. No business is free from needing high-quality child care systems, both now and in the future.

A payroll tax as an option for funding child care has the inherent advantage of strong fiscal sustainability since this type of funding has access to a consistent and reliable source of income.

I acknowledge the need for quality child care, but I will be voting NO on Proposition 5. I suggest the promoters of this scheme go back to their drawing boards. 

Delores Davies 



In 2015, I remember this headline: “Whatcom County seeks to build new jail — $100 million.” We were told the jail was full and we needed a bigger one. We started asking questions: “Who is in there?” and “How did they get there?” I became driven to find answers. I’d guess that what I’ve since learned would astound you. There are definitely some people who do terrible things with no regard for humanity, who should be kept away from regular society. And there are plenty of people who make serious mistakes like driving drunk, who need a wake-up call and a dose of accountability.

But it might surprise you to also know that for many, asking the question of how someone ended up in our jail leads to their earliest years of childhood. When a child receives safe and loving care before the age of 5, they are far more likely to be successful by almost any measure in life, and much less likely to end up using government social welfare programs or ending up incarcerated or homeless. There is even a significant connection between third-grade reading levels, literacy and those who end up incarcerated.

It is clear that when children get the best start possible in their earliest years of life, our entire community benefits.

I didn’t expect that my advocacy for criminal justice reform would lead me to early childhood and preschool — but after all of my asking WHY, I believe that at a local level, we have to say yes to strong support for our youngest children if we ever want to see a change in our jail being full and our growing homeless population.

That’s why I’ll be voting YES on Proposition 5: the Healthy Children’s Fund on my ballot this November. 

Heather Flaherty



Regarding the Whatcom Transportation Authority’s financial worries: If the WTA would stop running nearly empty buses to Western Washington University and elsewhere, that would save a lot of money. 

Rick Hannam



It seems like nowadays, bad news is everywhere. It is not only in the paper, it is the topic of dinner conversation, comedy sketches and even part of many people’s favorite way to escape reality: social media. It can be exhausting to go online as a form of escape but instead see the shocking realities of global poverty. 

That being said, there is no generation in which information has spread so quickly. What better way to spread awareness than on a platform where people routinely log on? Take Instagram and TikTok as examples, where information is consolidated into small pieces and presented in a catchy way.

It is getting increasingly easier to make a difference thanks to call scripts and auto-generated emails like the ones provided by The Borgen Project’s action center, and these links can be shared to maximize their impact. I’ve seen bills pass because enough people contacted their representatives. The READ Act Reauthorization Act was recently passed in the Senate partially because of these auto-generated emails.

It only takes two minutes and your voice is heard. With this, I urge Representative Rick Larsen to vote YES for the READ Act Reauthorization Act. I also urge social media users: time to move beyond infographics and take action.

Ava Ronning



Thank you for telling me how the Crisis Stabilization Center engaged local artists to warm the rooms and therefore the guests. The murals inspire inspirational and lovely responses. I actually cried when I viewed the video because eight years ago I begged the manager of the previous stabilization program to let me bring in art for our huge, bare walls. He responded to me, “We don’t want them to like it too much here.”

Art is healing.

From my heart,

Arlene Feld



Last week, I attended the Sept. 20 Town Hall: Lens on Law Enforcement hosted by the Downtown Bellingham Partnership and Bellingham Chamber of Commerce. In the 90-minute event, law enforcement was given about 20 minutes to speak to the issues at hand. I was thoroughly disappointed this event didn’t address the heart of our public safety crisis. So much airtime was given to politicians and so little to law enforcement.

Over three weeks ago, Sen. Simon Sefzik announced that he would be hosting a Public Safety Forum at the Meridian High School Auditorium on Sept. 29 at 7 p.m., so the public can hear directly from law enforcement on our public safety crisis. This forum boasts a grand total of zero politicians on the panel. Sen. Sefzik will be moderating this forum so that we can all hear from the local police chiefs instead of empty political promises and excuses from politicians. If you’re unable to attend in person, you can live stream this event on YouTube or Facebook via Bellingham Metro News.

Sen. Sefzik has been an advocate for law enforcement and public safety since the first day he took an oath to represent us. He’s been endorsed by the Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs, the Washington State Fraternal Order of Police, and Sheriff Bill Elfo.

Crime is destroying our public lands, making it increasingly difficult for businesses to make ends meet and endangering our kids. Sen. Sefzik is demonstrating the leadership we need to move toward a safer Whatcom County.  If you’re concerned about Washington’s crime wave, I urge you to come and hear from law enforcement at the upcoming forum and vote for Sen. Simon Sefzik in November.

Susan Prosser



I’m a newcomer to the area; I’ve only been here six years, but I’ve never appreciated a place such as this with its incredible beauty, wonderful people, community spirit, volunteerism and walkability. But I’m confused by people’s lack of interest in getting out of their vehicles and utilizing public transportation. Or walking. Or riding a bike.

For an area that is supposed to be eco-friendly and so concerned about the environment, I find this very disturbing. I walk everywhere almost year round. I love to walk. It has helped me understand the different neighborhoods and the communities within each of those. I learned my way around this town by walking. I see the buses going from here to there with a couple of people on them; sometimes virtually empty.

Traffic is getting worse, drivers and cyclists are less careful, and drivers seem to be ruder than I recall when I first came here. I’m still overjoyed to be here in Bellingham. And if I had a solution to the problems I would certainly be the first to talk about it. I can’t help but think that getting people out of their vehicles and being transported around town by bus, bike or foot would be somewhat helpful. Bellingham obviously has growing pains. Changing the landscape of transportation could be a big help in making this a quieter, more peaceful, safer and healthier place to live.

Valerie Jackson



This is a big year for ranked-choice voting in Washington. San Juan County, Clark County and the City of Seattle all have it on the ballot this November. 

Ranked-choice voting (RCV) is a simple improvement to the way we vote. In a ranked-choice election, you rank candidates in order: first choice, second choice, third choice and so on. There is no danger of vote-splitting, and in its strongest form, RCV can even prevent gerrymandering. 

These Washington ballot measures follow increasing support for RCV all over the country. As many know, Maine has been using RCV for several years. Alaska started using it this year. New York City started using it last summer. About 50 cities around the country — including 20 in Utah — have started using RCV recently.

Wherever it is in place, the voters find it easy to use and want to keep it. 

That’s because RCV expresses voters’ views better.

Here in Whatcom County, the folks in our local FairVote Washington chapter have been talking to people about RCV for years. We appear often at the Bellingham Farmers Market or the Art Walk, and we’ve been to the Lynden Raspberry Festival, the Blaine 4th of July Celebration, Ferndale’s Jam on the River, SeaFeast and VegFest. We hold ranking events at local breweries, chocolate shops and any other place that will take us. Everywhere it’s the same. Once people understand how RCV works, they put their names on our list of supporters. 

RCV is coming — and if you think the voters should be in charge, it can’t be too soon.

Stoney Bird



So much very important news, notably worldly suffering and tragedy, has been overridden and omitted to make available as much newsprint and broadcast time as possible for the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

With all due respect, she’s one person — however beloved and special to many people. Am I the only news consumer troubled by this clear inequity involving news coverage?

Every time I turned to Canada’s national CBC news channel, day or night, it was various forms of this.

A renowned newsman once justly implicated the Western world’s news coverage and consuming callousness and imbalance: “A hundred Pakistanis going off a mountain in a bus make less of a story than three Englishmen drowning in the Thames.” 

Frank Sterle Jr.   

White Rock, B.C. 


I have lived in the Whatcom County area for 20 years. I am disabled and require lots of health care. Over the years my supplemental health insurance went from costing me hundreds of dollars a month to free. However, when I paid for insurance, I got better health care. Now many medical specialists like mental health and oral surgeons do not take Medicare. Especially the mental health doctors and therapists. It is almost as if doctors are discriminating against me. When will Whatcom County turn back into the helpful place I love? 

Chris Wells


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