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Letters to the Editor, Week of Nov. 1, 2023

The jail, indoor rec, larches and the iconic scrap heap

Editor,

I am very glad that CDN has endorsed Prop. 4 “Safe Jail, Healthy Outcomes.” After closely following all the guest commentaries, articles and letters to the editor about this, I have come to realize this is definitely the best path forward for our community.

For those who are still wondering how to vote, I strongly recommend watching the Whatcom County Jail Tour September 2022 video on YouTube. Once I saw that, I understood how desperately dilapidated the current jail is. Clearly, trying to renovate it would be a colossal waste of taxpayer money. It is crucial to implement effective ways to treat offenders for addiction and mental health issues, and to break the repetitive in-and-out of jail cycle. Prop. 4 includes such plans.

A reality check demonstrates why an ideological focus on decarceration/defunding does not work. Police were required to hand out cards each week for a three-week period before the Deemer camp cleanup to all homeless residents there — summarizing social services available to homeless people, including addiction treatment.

Despite the good intentions, there was no response. In contrast, when there was enough space in the jail for an offender to be given the choice to go to jail for six months or enter a free four-month addiction treatment program, many chose the latter. They went on to lead productive lives without future jail time. My family has lived in the Pacific Northwest since 1890; and in what became the U.S. since 1662. We care deeply about this community. Honor the legacy.

Michèle Menzies

Bellingham

 

Editor,

The recent guest columnist (CDN, Oct. 20, 2023) outlined an obvious imbalance between indoor and outdoor recreation facilities in Bellingham. While he didn’t convince me to vote against the Greenways levy, he did get me thinking about how to close the gap.

My suggestion won’t solve the problem entirely, but it could help, and it wouldn’t require expensive new buildings. Actually, the facilities already exist, having been paid for with local property tax dollars and located throughout the city in just about every neighborhood.

‘They are called public schools and each one is equipped with a gymnasium.

These underused facilities could be made available to the general public in the evenings and on weekends. User fees would help the schools meet their financial needs and sharing their facilities might improve their public image. That might come in handy when proposing the next bond issue. A win-win in my opinion.

Steve Wilson

Bellingham/South Neighborhood


Editor,

Thanks for the very fun article about Goat Peak and the larches by Elliott Almond (CDN, Oct. 17, 2023), and beautiful photos. We have done the Goat Peak hike a few times (but too early for the larches to have turned). 

In the early ’80s, long before the crowds, we did the Blue Lake hike a few times for the larches. Well worth it, but we just pass it by now when we see the lines of cars. We’re in our mid-70s now so this year we just appreciated the larches from Washington Pass Overlook. Thanks again.

Jay Davis

Bellingham

 

Editor,

Running for office in tumultuous times requires vision, strength and empathy — three characteristics I see in Chief Donnell “Tank” Tanksley. I grew up in Skagit County, and I’ve watched how much more diverse, innovative and vibrant Whatcom County has become. But I also hear consistently about how hard it is to find jobs and housing and how social services are lacking to provide greater stability to folks struggling in our communities.

Public safety, quite simply, means different things to different people. What would it take for everyone in our community to feel safe calling 911? How do we reconcile both the painful history and recent events that have led to so much distrust and unease? How do we ensure that victims of violence and crime find peace at the end of that trauma?

We start by electing a sheriff who understands the circumstances and policies that entangle folks with our justice system inside and out. You elect a professional from law enforcement who knows that simply jailing people doesn’t solve our crime problems — that rehabilitation is possible with time, resources and compassion. 

You find someone with integrity who cares enough about our community to want public safety and justice to be meaningful for all. I am so grateful that leader has stepped up — please join me in supporting Tank for Whatcom County sheriff and get out there and vote.

Sen. Liz Lovelett

Anacortes


Editor,

As you fill out your ballots during these final days before Election Day, I urge you to vote to reelect Dan Hammill to the Bellingham City Council.

As a council member, Dan has a consistent track record of making decisions with pragmatism and compassion, helping to deliver solutions on issues that matter most in our community. For example, Dan has been a champion for behavioral health and housing, including helping to develop our local Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and Ground-Level Response and Coordinated Engagement (GRACE) programs. These programs improve our criminal justice system by coordinating services and providing alternatives to incarceration for individuals whose unlawful behaviors stem from experiencing substance use disorder and mental health challenges.

Dan was also instrumental in creating the Bellingham Home Fund to build more housing, provide rental assistance and help low-income residents attain home ownership. This program has been critically important for our most vulnerable neighbors in recent years during a time when our community has experienced a housing shortage crisis.

In short, as a Bellingham City Council Member, Dan Hammill has been a leader on some of the most pressing issues facing our community. We need his experience and visionary leadership during the next four years. Let’s reelect Dan for a third term.

Joe Timmons

Bellingham

 

Editor,

No, my opposition to ABC Recycling hasn’t a thing to do with growth. It has to do with history and dreams of what our waterfront was intended to be. And I’m opposed to toxicity, heavy industry and zoning that permits that kind of industry in critical areas. 

Back in the 2000s when Georgia Pacific closed its doors and turned what is now our “waterfront” over to the city and the port, the public engaged in a two-decade-long process to plan for its development and recommended how to manage the toxic cleanup, which had to be extensive. GP had left us burdened with an enormous mound of toxic waste, which cost us taxpayers millions of dollars to get rid of. 

As it turned out, the “planning” process was all for naught, as now we have Harcourt’s development and ABC Recycling to contend with. The public never wanted either of these (and specifically, we never allowed for heavy industry there), and, why would we have spent millions on toxic cleanup, only to pollute it again with another toxic-polluting industry? This feels to me like the ultimate betrayal by the city and the port to have allowed this company a presence on the waterfront when they know the history of this location.

The waterfront and all Salish Sea-side properties are critical areas. Remember, healthy fisheries support jobs. The issue before us should not be a choice of one industry over the other. 

Elizabeth Smith

Bellingham


Editor,

When it comes to the best choice in the District 5 Whatcom County Council race there can be no doubt. The only choice is Ben Elenbaas. Ben lives and works in the district. He has always been the most effective advocate for the people and places he represents. People listen to Ben; they believe him when he speaks and has always been the embodiment of integrity.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to interact with just about every elected official in the county and none was more responsive or worked harder when called to action. We served together on the county planning commission where I was able to watch him interact and work firsthand. He is a farmer to his core. Able to balance his work on the farm, his job at BP and his incredible family.

They say you can tell a lot about a person by looking at the respect he gets from those closest to him. Ben’s wife, children and friends not only love this man — they respect and admire him.  

He will, as usual, be an advocate for fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency on the council. Please mark your ballot for Ben Ellenbaas for county council District 5.

Ken Bell

Port of Bellingham District 3 commissioner

 

Editor,

As of Oct. 23, nearly 5,100 Gazans have perished under Israeli fire targeting Hamas. It’s disturbing that so many Palestinian non-combatants were prevented from crossing borders to safety during the relentless bombing by Israeli planes. 

But then maybe Israel and we Westerners, including our legacy news media, have been getting accustomed to so many Palestinian deaths over many decades of Palestinian/Hamas-Israel warring.

It seems to me that for quite some time, Palestinians have been perceived (thus treated) as not being of equal value to those within Israel. And their suffering and deaths are somehow less worthy of our actionable concern as otherwise relatively civilized nations. 

Sadly, the worth of such life can/will be measured by the overabundance of protracted conditions under which it suffers.

Frank Sterle Jr.    

White Rock, British Columbia


Editor,

I operate a local business in the city’s heart, and I’m writing to express my support for Kim Lund as our next mayor. I love living in Bellingham. I have chosen to raise my family here, and the pulse of my day is very much in the city center.

Bellingham is evolving. Our city faces challenges and divisions and, we need a leader who promotes unity, inclusiveness and pragmatic compassion. These qualities, combined with a systematic analysis of outcomes, are crucial. Kim has a unique blend of experience and skills: her corporate and science-based background has honed her pragmatism in budgeting and strategic thinking.

This, paired with her empathetic approach, showcased by her time at the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation, provides a holistic vision for leadership. She emphasizes the importance of understanding and addressing challenges like homelessness and mental health issues. Her engineering mindset champions the “fail forward” approach, pushing for proactive decision-making, consistent evaluation and the agility to adapt. 

I have immense respect for Mayor Fleetwood and the city’s dedicated employees. Supporting Kim doesn’t lessen this. Instead, it’s an endorsement of a fresh leadership style that can navigate the complexities of our community. Let’s recognize our past achievements and wholeheartedly welcome the potential for an even brighter Bellingham future.

Anne-Marie Faiola

Bellingham


Editor,

In response to past letters to the editor expressing concern that Kim Lund is a newcomer to city government — that’s not only true, but also one of the many reasons I’m voting for Kim.

Lund is a proven leader. She revamped the Bellingham’s Schools Foundation to consolidate fundraising for all schools, which led to disparate groups uniting forces in support of our children. Now, all Bellingham kids benefit equally from citywide foundation support.

Lund is a listen-first, experiment-small, prove-results then expand-quickly type person — typical of engineers and leaders. I’m confident that Kim will be good at killing initiatives that aren’t working and pivoting to new approaches.

As a leadership coach, adjunct at WWU, and chair of a 50-person data/AI company, I have learned that one of the keys to success is giving responsibility to the people who can handle it. I trust the opinions of the people who run our city — the employees. They have spoken loudly about Kim’s leadership qualities. Leaders of unions representing more than 80% of all city employees endorsed Lund.

Finally, Lund is not a lawyer or a career politician. That’s a feature, not a bug.

Bill Miller

Bellingham


Editor,

I urge you to join me in voting for Kim Lund for mayor.

A lifelong Bellingham resident, I’ve had it. The lack of leadership and endless excuses we have received under Seth Fleetwood’s reign should no longer be tolerated. Ask yourself: Is Bellingham healthier, cleaner, safer and more vibrant than four years ago? 

Should we continue to accept excuses Seth uses to explain why a challenge cannot be met? Or his ineffective work? Is it possible that his recent token actions towards the once vibrant downtown are just coming to light prior to election season?

His “leadership” consists of wordy excuses without vision or solutions — just the status quo, hoping another community agency will free him of the responsibility of addressing a problem. 

My experiences with Kim Lund include seeing her in action as a board member and as the former Executive Director of the Bellingham Public School Foundation. She is a powerful voice, a critical thinker and a visionary leader who intelligently questions the status quo. Her response to a challenge is “how can we best fix this,” not try to avoid it or assert powerlessness. 

Kim accepts responsibility. She energetically pursues solutions and takes action when facing a problem.

Her leadership is inclusive, rational and bold. She is never paralyzed by fear.

Barbara Lupo

Bellingham


Letters to the Editor are published online Wednesdays and a selection is published in print Fridays. Send Letters to the Editor to letters@cascadiadaily.com, due Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Rules: Maximum 250 words, have a point and make it clearly. CDN reserves the right to edit letters for length, clarity, grammar and style, and personal attacks or offensive content. Letters should be submitted with an address/phone number to verify the writer’s identity (not for publication).

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