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Letters to the Editor, Week of Nov. 15, 2023

Candidate videos, reckless bigotry, homelessness and plastic bags

Editor,

Does this bug anyone but me? Those of us who care about the health of the planet we are leaving our children and grandchildren rejoiced in October 2021 when the new law eliminating single-use plastic carryout bags went into effect (SB 5323). 

For a while, it seemed people were bringing reusable bags, or buying paper bags. Every day, millions fewer plastic bags were going into landfills or ending up in our oceans. Then I started seeing plastic bags being offered again at Haggen, Safeway, Fred Meyer and Red Apple Markets.  I’ve stood in parking lots and watched most people exit with plastic. Sometimes with 6-plus bags. 

It turns out there is a loophole in the law that allows stores to use plastic bags if they are heavier gauge (2.25 mil thick) and “could” be reused. Stores claim the bags are reusable 125 times. Really? I’ve stood near checkout lanes for 15 minutes and not seen a single person return one of these bags. Are we not worse off now? Each of these bags contain more plastic than the old ones. Are stores not just circumventing the intent of the law? 

I want to commend Skagit Valley Food Co-op and Walmart for not offering plastic bags. The Co-op offers paper bags for 8 cents. Since April 2023, Walmart stores in Washington no longer provide plastic bags. They will sell you a reusable fabric bag for 74 cents. Bravo for them.

Michael Dillard, MD

Burlington

 

Editor,

Regarding the video interviews with Whatcom County candidates for the Nov. 7 general election:

If a picture is worth a thousand words, these videos are worth a billion. Being able to see their expressions, hear their intonations, feel the rhythm of their conversations, was so helpful. I really appreciated how you asked each the same questions in the same order, so that interviews were easily compared between the two candidates for that role. The way you came up with the questions was also genius, with the community input. I am also impressed and heartened by the interviewers’ professionalism in interacting with each candidate. These interviews were a breath of fresh air, compared to the other political news outlets I’ve witnessed of late.

You guys did these so well and did our county proud with the vastly enhanced community engagement these facilitated/could facilitate. (This time around the viewership appeared low, but I’ll be doing my darnedest to spread the word about this amazing resource). 

This is exactly what is needed to really understand who one is voting for, or at least it’s so much closer than any block of text and cheesy photograph could ever get. 

I’m just overjoyed that you all did this work. I offer my deep, deep gratitude. And I implore that you continue in this fashion. This is what not only our county needs but our entire country, in my humble opinion.

Thank you so, so, so much.

Edlyn Clevenger

Bellingham

 

Editor,

On Nov. 10, I witnessed a pedestrian in the crosswalk hit by a distracted driver at the intersection of 12th Street and Mill Street.

Thankfully, the young woman was not seriously injured. The driver stopped and admitted to being distracted.

If you are driving a motor vehicle, please remember that you are driving a weapon that can kill and maim people and animals. Driving is a privilege and a responsibility.

Whether you are a driver, a bicyclist or a pedestrian, please pay attention to your surroundings. 

Margaret Chester

Bellingham

 

Editor,

Yay! Once again the CDN is on the forefront of progressive and innovative reporting with its inclusion of a dedicated Taylor Swift reporter in its news feed. Following her is almost as worthwhile as the media’s obsessive hourly reporting on the unfortunate demise of Matthew Perry.

But … OMG! In all the excitement of the new reportage (is that a word?) enticements category the CDN has left out a couple of key Bellingham soon-to-be-icons:

  • A sought-after, highly collectable autographed photo of the former mayor with shades and a hard hat checking the workings of the poop plant.
  • A ride in the WTA’s 100% or … er, well … “almost” electric buses, complete with diesel smudge pot heaters.
  • An “Elect Rod Junn” personalized coffee mug.
  • And, as an added bonus, a credit voucher for a future one-night stay in the port’s scenic, “I’m not the Titanic Hotel.” Offered is the richly appointed Scrap Pile Room. Earplugs, Tyvek Hazmat suit, and gas mask included at no charge.

Great job, CDN! Keep up the good work!

Bob Morton

Bellingham

 

Editor,

On Nov. 1, you published a letter from a community member suggesting that our public schools can help fill an identified gap in indoor recreation facilities. Bellingham Public Schools agrees.

First — thank you to our Bellingham community for your historic support of our school bonds and levies. We are lucky to live in a community that prides itself on providing outstanding learning facilities for our youth. With every new or updated building, we integrate ways that our community can use fields, tracks, courts, playgrounds, gyms, theaters and classrooms.

Community use of our facilities is welcome outside of school hours. You will often find neighbors using our playgrounds as community parks and gathering places, walking or running our tracks, playing a friendly game of tennis on the high school courts, or using a covered area for a pickup basketball game during evenings and weekends. Our turf fields mean we can use them year-round, and lights and restrooms extend field usability.

School facilities are all available to reserve and rent through our facilities department. Just this school year, we’ve hosted club sports, adult recreation leagues, community events, neighborhood meetings, and training for law enforcement partners. Minimal fees apply to cover costs like utilities and custodial care to maintain these important community resources.

So, thank you to this reader for the chance to remind others that our schools are YOUR resources. We encourage anyone who is interested in using a school facility to call 360-676-6400 or visit bellinghamschools.org/rentals for more information.

Greg Baker

Superintendent, Bellingham Public Schools

 

Editor,

In his Northern Light candidate interview, Cliff Freeman said the following: 

“Stop the woke agenda that is poisoning the minds of our kids. Be it diversity training, CRT, social and emotional learning, inappropriate sex education, reducing parent’s rights, this transgender contagion, the list goes on. I will take a hard look at the curriculum. I need to understand the state requirements that promote this craziness as well as any district policies, if any, that contribute to it. And make adjustments if needed. The curriculum needs to reflect the values of the community.”

It is shameful that Blaine School District voters elected someone who openly opposes diversity and learning about the history of American racism that led to slavery and genocide. Putting the lives of transgender students at risk is not leadership; it is reckless bigotry. 

Jay Taber

Blaine

 

Editor,

I work downtown and live close to the downtown core. The amount of suffering I see individuals experiencing homelessness endure every day is palpable.

The downtown business coalition frequently meets with the mayor, and his most common response seems to be “I feel your pain, I hear you.” Then nothing changes. The city spent over $500,000 hiring private security officers to patrol downtown. What has improved? There have been nearly two overdose deaths a day downtown since Jan 1. 

We know it is more cost-effective to house people than to continue to criminalize homelessness. We know that the combined approach of transitional/supportive housing, effective mental health and substance use treatment, ongoing case management, etc. are the most evidence-based approach for addressing issues facing unhoused people. They are often told to “move along” when sitting or camping downtown, but move along to where?

Individuals are told “Go to Base Camp” but Base Camp is full every night, over capacity. At the last point in time count (an estimate of the unhoused population), there were over 1,000 unhoused individuals in Whatcom County. Base Camp has a capacity of just over 200. To continue to sweep camps and move people along when no shelter options are available constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, as has already been acknowledged by neighboring states. Is this how you want your city to handle it? Cruelly and inhumanely, seizing property and discarding it as “garbage”, shuffling people from one street to the next?

Does Bellingham ever intend to declare a state of emergency on homelessness, unlock additional state funds and build more shelters and treatment facilities? Are city officials aware that if substance users are reintroduced to the street without proper support, the crisis will merely continue? What of the increased costs of policing (remember that half a million mentioned above), the strain on emergency departments and local medical facilities, the burn-out rate of outreach workers trying to get a narrowing pool of resources to a growing number of unhoused individuals?

We have a choice in what sort of place we want to be, the city that responds to the housing crisis with empathy, compassion, increased resource and treatment options, or the city that watches placidly as its residents die entirely preventable deaths due to poverty and homelessness.

Dom Manetti

Bellingham

 

Editor,

ABC, a Canadian corporation, recently bought 50 acres of unused land from the failing Lehigh cement plant, on Marine Drive, just a tad north of Bellingham city limits, in order to support their already noisy, dirty scrap metal storage and shipping operation on Port [of Bellingham] land in Fairhaven. 

ABC plans to build a large metal shredding factory there that will continuously shred old cars and appliances and feed the shredded scrap metal by truck along city streets to their [waterfront] storage/shipping facility. 

This shredder would be located next to a residential neighborhood of very modest houses, close to Little Squalicum Park, beach and estuary, very close to Locust Beach, close to small neighborhood day care operations and a new elementary school, etc. 

The sound of shredding and dumping metal onto huge trucks will be heard from Cliffside Drive to the north, as far east as the Birchwood neighborhood, and far south along Eldridge Avenue, the trucks going through other neighborhoods toward downtown. Not to overlook what roads they will use to get the old cars here!

With the housing shortage we have, a better use of these 50 acres would be for apartments or townhouses. Let your elected representatives know how you feel. Once the permits get approved there can be no turning back this disaster. 

Robert Koch

Bellingham

 

Editor,

The Harcourt Development team must be overly fond of Irish whiskey, considering their almost unbelievable lack of concern for completing their Waterfront District plans. I recall the choice of Harcourt to be controversial right from the start, with a dubious track record of lawsuits regarding their business practices.

I was filled with hope upon watching the demolition of the first Georgia-Pacific building in July 2007. Yes, 16 years ago! Observing the photo taken overhead, we are left with what appears to be a disaster, with Harcourt now having even less motivation (if that’s possible) to complete what they started.

Ken Casden

Bellingham

 

Editor,

Some economists think Washington’s economy is “cooling”. That’s ominous news for business owners and working alike. We should hope the politicians in [Washington,] D.C. understand we need policies that enhance employment and job growth, not stifle it.

That’s why I hope Sen. Maria Cantwell will step in to put an end to “neutrality agreements,” the contracts employers sign with unions that require them to remain silent while the union organizes their workplace.

Over eight decades of legal precedent holds that employers absolutely have the right to non-coercive free speech during a union organizing election. Yet, with a stroke of a pen, these rights can be wiped away.

Why would a business owner voluntarily sign on to such a deal?

Well, in many cases, their decision isn’t exactly voluntary. The federal government is increasingly requiring business owners to accept these kinds of agreements in order to be a federal contractor. And sometimes labor unions apply pressure on business owners to accept them, occasionally even resorting to smear campaigns in the media.

Employees have and deserve the right to join a union if they choose to. But under neutrality agreements, they lose their right to a private ballot, meaning union reps or pro-union coworkers can influence or even intimidate them. So just as employers lose their rights, workers lose their freedoms.

I hope Sen. Cantwell will take up the urgent task of defending both job creators and workers by cracking down on anti-freedom neutrality agreements.

John Huntley

Bellingham

 


Letters to the Editor are published online Wednesdays; a selection is published in print Fridays. Send to letters@cascadiadaily.com 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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