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Letters to the Editor, Week of Dec. 20, 2023

Working waterfront, social workers, ski passes and fascism


The humans who powered the working waterfront at Squalicum Harbor in 1978 combined deep levels of experience with supportive interest in the up-and-coming, the potentials. 

Your article has prompted many memories of that year, when I lived aboard my new husband’s work boat, a schooner. Nick Mustapa’s great seiner, Phoenix, tied next to us out there on F dock; and during the season Nick would be driving his crew on board by 4 a.m., hollering orders, revving the engines. By 4:20 he was outside the breakwater, on the way to wherever seiners went for salmon.    

Lots of shipwrights [were] on the docks, repairing and renewing those hard-working seiners and gillnet boats. Plenty of work on the yacht side of the harbor, too, if a guy could bend planks, fit guards and bulwarks, cork seams. (The Port of Bellingham taxed shipwrights who worked on Port property, even though the shipwrights were already paying the city’s Business and Operation tax.) Joyce and Alan Slade of Red Star Paints beautified interiors and exteriors with varnish or satin gloss. Jim Thompson was your man for electrical boat work. The Web Locker, run by Suzy and Margaret, fed workers all day long.  

The Boldt Decision was new. Opinions about the justice of the Boldt Decision ranged widely on the docks, and even divided the consciousness of individuals who could see both sides.  I think I can still hear Ernie Limbacher, aboard his boat, the Ruff and Tuff, arguing about the Boldt Decision. Is it still like that in our now much smaller fishing community?    

Looking forward to more of your reporting, 

Susan Wickersham



Once again your reporters have done an excellent job of highlighting issues which greatly impact our community, especially the shortage of social service workers. We read the high cost of living here makes hiring, and retaining these trained professionals very hard.  

We see homeless encampments on the street, we hear sometimes available property is empty due to the lack of housing case management. It’s not hard to feel discouraged! 

It’s therefore important to become aware of the efforts that different local groups, agencies and organizations are making to alleviate these problems. Many are run by unpaid volunteers, caring neighbors and citizens. 

Our small group, for instance, has taken on trying to find reasonably priced rentals for employed housing case managers – knowing that helping one of them remain in our area means helping keep many others off the street! One of your neighbors may be helping another group make sandwiches, or call legislators to ensure they address these needs.  Especially in this season of light, let us take a breath and consider what is actually being done to make our community better.

Elaine Woods

Housing Our Helpers Team


For many the holiday season is the time of year when family and friends gather to celebrate.  Yet for far too many residents who live in care centers, loneliness and boredom are constant companions this season.. 

The members of the Assistance League of Bellingham asked ourselves what we could do to make this holiday more meaningful to the residents of care centers in Whatcom County? Coordinating with care center activities directors, we fill the “wish lists” of 121 residents. Clothing, art supplies, puzzles and “special orders” fill the Christmas Gift Bags which we will deliver to care centers this holiday. 

A gift that is especially meaningful is donated by the Pieceables Quilt group in Lynden, which offered 121 beautiful handmade lap quilts.  Every resident who wished for the comfort of a quilt will receive one this Christmas. Thank you. 

You may ask yourself how you would feel if you could never go home again, to leave everything that made your life meaningful? Consider a holiday card, a thoughtful gift or visit to a care center this season.

Helen Moran

Assistance League of Bellingham


Resolution of the Bellingham High School failure to report charges without trial is a good thing. 

According to your coverage, however, there is still an element of denial by school administrators that anything was done wrong and I find that disturbing. Inappropriate boundaries in the staff/student relationship are what was done wrong. I suggest this as a retired high school teacher and veteran of dozens of trainings, and a few episodes, on handling sexual behavior incidents.

Student/staff relationships are the major factors in a successful high school education. The good relationships are not best friend, parent, content authority, policeman or bureaucrat, but something I would call “trusted mentorship.” Great education can happen in this environment, and students can benefit in many situations because it allows flexibility and common sense to happen.

This success is seductive, however, and staff can come to believe it is the right approach to every situation. It is not, most obviously where sexual behavior is involved. Why is it obvious? Just read the law. It disallows staff flexibility and ambiguity and draws a clear line about what must be reported to law enforcement and when. 

Administrators, and not just those charged, lost sight of the line and applied trusted mentorship in a way it should not have been. I fear they still don’t understand this.

Tom Horton

Sudden Valley


Reader Amber Pouley wrote last week to complain about the cost of a Mt. Baker Ski Area season pass and compared it to the cost of a pass at Stevens Pass. 

Unfortunately, Ms. Pouley was comparing apples to onions. They’re both the same shape, but they are also really different. She compared Baker’s season pass, which includes all days that the ski area is open for the season, to the Stevens Pass Select pass which only allows access to the lifts on non-blackout days, which are holidays, school breaks, and most weekends. She says that she will make up the cost of her pass at Stevens in a few weekends, but unless those weekends are in late March or April she will have to either buy a day pass (if she can find parking) or go home.

I speak as a season pass holder at Baker and a Select Pass holder at Stevens. They do not compare.

Phil Heft



Our Veteran’s Parade in Burlington a few weeks ago was memorable in several ways, but two stuck out. First, it was festive and so colorful. Second, the horses and confident riders were impressive; the continuous line of old and new John Deere tractors were a delight. The youngster’s participation throughout the procession added hopefulness and a contagious vitality to the parade as well. Also, there were the local and state veteran placards honoring those killed in service to our country. Those veterans were “not suckers or losers” but a reminder for what they fought for, our democracy.

Stakes are extremely high. Our next presidential election is less than a year away.  Remaining silent is just as much a political statement as speaking out. I currently see the USA flirting with autocracy and anti-democratic ideology; which is abhorrent and chilling. This dalliance in government of the few, by the few and for the few is hogwash; disrespectful to our constitutional republic based on the principles of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, disrespectful to all our veterans who gave their lives in service for our democratic republic. 

President Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg Nov. 19, 1863, can presently apply: “… highly resolved that these dead shall not have died in vain.” 

No one is coming to save us; certainly not the executive, legislative or judiciary branches of our present government. We are the living heroes of this story to save our fragile experiment in democracy. This ongoing, democratic, experiment, demands our full participation. Now more than ever! 

The 2024 Presidential election will be a simple choice: Democracy or autocracy. We already know which choice supports our continued constitutional Republic; which continues to honor the veterans who gave their lives so this nation “shall not perish from this earth.”

Bruce Hitchko




Carole Jacobson’s recent letter reminds us of the many emergencies around the world that need our help, even if they don’t get headlines (CDN, Dec. 13, 2023). Inspired by her call for us to help, there are many avenues to make a difference.  Beyond giving cash, there is also using our voices to encourage our government’s positive initiatives. Calling for the renewing of the expanded Child Tax Credit that cut child poverty by 46% is a good start.  Passing the End TB Now Act will help people around the world by battling tuberculosis, the world’s number one infectious killer.

Renewing the READ Act will continue reaching children with a quality education where many have no opportunity.  So you can make a difference by calling your members of Congress, 202-224-3121, and encouraging them to pass these and other ladders out of poverty for our country and our global community.

Willie Dickerson



It is astonishing how many Americans view the threat of Republican-inspired fascism as just so much handwringing and liberal propaganda being spread by a paranoid press.  

Daily, the news from a still free press reveals the corruption of our political body by Christian Nationalism, MAGA extremism, and a complicit and complacent Republican party.

The reportage seems excessive because the daily instances of fascist behavior and distortions of law being carried out by many of our country’s elected, right-leaning leaders and Trump-appointed judges are occurring at such an accelerating pace that makes it seem impossible in the America many of us thought we knew. 

And now the Republicans are unanimously backing an indicted, twice-impeached, treasonous and depraved degenerate for President who is flagrantly promising more of the same. How can this not end in anything but civil unrest?

Michael Waite




While attempting the Trader Joe’s parking lot today, a solution to the crowding problem occurred to me: if the store could somehow impose a cell phone reception blackout on the lot, we wouldn’t have drivers checking their mail, texting, reading “War and Peace” and God knows what else on their phones before pulling out.

Deborah Wessell

Columbia Neighborhood



A vague virtue often expressed among liberal circles is seeking common ground. The concept of common ground implies a belief that everything can be negotiated. The problem with that ill-thought-out idea is what’s to negotiate with people who are out to destroy you, your friends and democracy itself?

The theocracy movement agenda to deprive women, LGBTQ+ and non-Christians of equal protection under the law relies on a strategy of creating a climate of fear. Countermeasures are research, education, organizing and action — in that order.

Liberal pitfalls are gullibility, pandering to bullies, and blaming the messenger. Sophisticated bigots are often pathological liars. Some are trained in the art of deception. Those who expose them are frequently blamed by cowards who pander to them. The problem with that is that pandering to bullies only encourages them. 

The solution is for those who believe in democracy to make a similar commitment to civics as those who are actively destroying it. 

If I wanted to live in a theocracy I’d move to Iran, but this is America, where — thanks to Thomas Jefferson — we have separation of church and state.

Jay Taber



Letters to the Editor are published online Wednesdays; a selection is published in print Fridays. Send to by 10 a.m. Tuesdays. Rules: Maximum 250 words, be civil, have a point and make it clearly. Preference is given to letters about local subjects. CDN reserves the right to reject letters or edit for length, clarity, grammar and style, or removal of personal attacks or offensive content. Letters must include an address/phone number to verify the writer’s identity (not for publication).

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