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Letters to the Editor, Week of Oct. 25, 2023

The mayor's race, Greenways, windshield dew and echoes of WWII

Editor,

Congratulations on your insightful and measured election coverage. The Cascadia Daily has put together the kind of comprehensive information that every voter needs to make thoughtful decisions during this important election.

Please, however, remind your readers what it means that your ballot must be postmarked no later than the last day of the election. Voters can’t simply place their ballots in their mailboxes if the delivery person has already been by that Tuesday. And, your ballot won’t be postmarked in time if you slide it into a mailbox that has already had its last pick‐up on Nov. 7 before you got there.

Please don’t be one of those voters whose ballot is rejected because it wasn’t postmarked by Nov. 7. If you’re mailing your ballot, do it early. But, please consider placing your ballot in one of the many drop boxes conveniently located across Whatcom County. Make sure your vote counts.

Sue Wright

Bellingham

 

Editor,

I read with dismay Mr. Jones’s guest commentary (CDN, Oct. 20, 2023) asking Bellingham to vote against what he describes as our “beloved Greenways levy.”

Mr. Jones asks, “What data does the Greenways committee have to show an overwhelming public need for more parks/trails…?” As mentioned by Mr. Jones, the Parks, Recreation, & Open Space Plan clearly illustrates areas in the city lacking parks, trail connections and habitat, something the Greenways program has continued to address. The Greenways Strategic Plan goes further, giving more information and listing detailed projects.

Mr. Jones stated, “During the past 33 years, the Greenways program has been successful in taxing residents…” But Mr. Jones has it backward: For 33 years, we have wisely decided, four times no less, to tax ourselves to create a first-class outdoor recreation system. The people of Bellingham voting with their tax dollars provides powerful data in favor of Greenways; 69.7% voted in favor of Greenways 4.

To be clear, a vote against Greenways is not a vote for indoor recreation. They are separate but not exclusive issues, and we can have both. Our Greenways program is perhaps the strongest evidence that when our community identifies a need, we can make a clear, detailed plan, we can strive and we can succeed. We can do the same for indoor recreation, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of our Greenways. I would be happy to work with Mr. Jones and community leaders to address indoor recreation. Please vote yes for Greenways 5.

Neil Schaner

Greenways 5 levy campaign chair

Bellingham

 

Editor,

I’m writing in full support of incumbent Mayor of Bellingham Seth Fleetwood. His years of service, which include holding office on the county and Bellingham city councils, and now as mayor of Bellingham, have given him the experience that will keep us recovering from the very difficult times we have faced, and continue moving our city forward. 

He was faced with the greatest challenges of modern times and they are not going away. From the outside, it is very easy to forget that the mayor in a city the size of Bellingham is the CEO of a complex multifaceted organization with a $400 million budget and is responsible for 1,000 employees that provide essential services to our nearly 100,000 residents. This is not an entry-level position. It requires experience, knowledge, collaboration and strategic thinking.  

If there’s a problem or a community concern, Mayor Fleetwood leans in. He is genuinely a person who cares about people, our community and “walks toward the fire” rather than avoiding it. However, he is not afraid to change tactical direction if there is an alternative to get to the strategic outcome that we all need. 

It takes someone at the helm with these skills and attributes. I have found mayor Fleetwood to be that person. Challenges will continue. He is focused on creative, thoughtful solutions, exactly what we need to sustain our community.

That’s why I have endorsed Seth Fleetwood for a second term as mayor of Bellingham. 

Edwin H. “Skip” Williams

Bellingham


Editor,

“Dew” me a favor.

Surviving many years of commuting by bicycle takes a lot of things: being visible, riding in a predictable fashion and being a defensive rider. One way of doing that is to watch the eyes of the car drivers pulling up from side streets; if they don’t make eye contact they most likely haven’t seen you. If the car’s windows are covered in dew, you can’t tell if the driver sees you or not. Car drivers, with the fall season upon us, please take a minute to wipe or squeegee the dew off of your windows on all sides before heading out. We cyclists thank you.

Gary Malick

Bellingham


Editor,

CDN printed my letter some months ago suggesting parallels around us with Germany in 1933 (governance flashpoint in an embattled republic, ending badly) and Spain, 1936-39 (Ukraine as a testing ground for war while an alliance imbalance favored fascism). What struck me last night from the White House, in the third week of Israel versus Hamas, in perhaps the world’s most volatile region, and with armaments lining up behind Ukraine (no need to enumerate) and Russia (see North Korea, Iran, where will China land?…), at a time when U.S. governance is paralyzed?

Joe Biden got it right. He invoked FDR around 1940, preparing and mobilizing a much-divided country for conditions ahead requiring adults in the room. What’s (not) happening in the House of Representatives is at best juvenile, at worst … fill in your own blanks. As we prepare locally to cast ballots next month on more mundane matters CDN’s covering very well, here’s a plea to keep eyes looking and heads thinking ahead to elections a year from now that could go very wrong if we don’t.

Milt Krieger

Bellingham


Editor,

Thank you to guest writer Starck Follis (CDN, Oct. 6, 2023) for a well-written evaluation of the jail question. I don’t like his advice that we “trust authorities to build a humane jail,” but maybe we can begin with trust while we pay attention to the process as it unfolds.  

That process can’t go much further without funding, so I intend to support the jail tax.  

Watch the YouTube video, “Whatcom Jail September 2022.” Was poor maintenance over the years part of the problem? Were poor design decisions made along the way? Maybe so. But today we need to recognize that we need a new jail. 

Susan Wickersham

Bellingham


Editor,

I have attended a number of local political forums; of special interest to me is the position of Whatcom County sheriff. I have worked for the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office for 42 years, and while I am retiring in a few weeks, I very much want to see the most qualified person fill the sheriff’s position. For me, that’s Doug Chadwick.

I have seen Doug grow from a young deputy to a highly qualified leader. He has learned a lot in his 29 years in service, including the value of continual learning. He has paid that forward teaching new deputies, working as a firearms instructor, sharing what he learned at the FBI academy, teaching Fair and Impartial Policing, and operating as adjunct faculty at Whatcom Community College. 

Doug currently manages more than 200 people at the sheriff’s office, including three bureaus, the Office of Professional Accountability, and Emergency Management. To do so, he has learned human resource management, budgeting, operationalizing changes in the law, creation of systems to respond to emergencies of all types, and the significant conjunction of behavioral health and policing including the GRACE and LEAD programs.

It is interesting to compare Doug’s breadth of experiences to his opponent. I respect the work Chief Tanksley has done in the military and running two small police departments. What we need now, however, is a person who can take us into the future. Someone who can blend new ideas with established principles, and understands showing grace while advocating for accountability. Doug Chadwick is that person.  

Wendy Jones

Bellingham


Editor,

It’s a shame that we can be so easily fooled by rumors. Take the current one that Kim Lund is “in the pocket” of developers. How about we let facts fuel the discussion? First, while she has accepted campaign donations from companies and individuals in the construction, equipment rental, and real estate industries, most if not all of these are from local people she has come to know, and perhaps worked with, over the years. Check the Public Disclosure Commission website. Nothing about that indicates she’s in anybody’s pocket.

Second, with the biggest issue in this year’s election being affordable housing, why wouldn’t you want a candidate who has worked with and understands the industries involved with building and selling homes? The fact that Kim knows such folks, and has also worked on the county planning commission, should be a huge selling point because it shows she’s not a novice when it comes to housing!

Finally, guess who also accepted donations from at least some of these same people? That’s right, Kim’s opponent! It’s right there in, again, the Public Disclosure Commission website. So why are some people upset only about what those people are donating to Kim?

This year’s election is far too important for any of us to be swayed by mis- or dis-information, or by failing to check easily checked facts. Let’s be better, people. Don’t fall prey to rumors.

Rick Eggerth

Bellingham

 

Editor,

On that fateful day in February 2022, the day every law enforcement spouse prays will never happen, violence found us. Within a few hours, I received a short text from Ben letting me know he was there for our family, whatever we needed. Whether it is a short text in our time of need or voting in support of good public safety policy in Whatcom County, Ben Elenbaas has always been there for law enforcement. His vision for a safer Whatcom County begins with creating and maintaining strong relationships with the law enforcement community. He will continue to fight for safer communities, from Bellingham to Blaine and Ferndale to Maple Falls.

But Ben and I go back before I even donned the uniform. We both grew up kicking dirt in our barn boots south of Lynden. I grew up on a dairy farm just down the road from Ben’s family.

Ben’s broad knowledge as a graduate of the Huxley College of the Environment paired with his many years of lived experience as a farmer in Whatcom County is an invaluable resource.

There is no other current council member, or candidate, who can represent our large farming community the way Ben can.

To further add to his resume, Ben’s work at the refinery brings an even more diverse perspective unmatched by anyone else on the council. His dedication to promote living wage jobs is essential in this very expensive housing market.

Ben is the blue-collar worker who backs the blue! A man who loves the land and learned how to care for it at Western Washington University.

Vote Ben Elenbaas.

Tawsha Dykstra Thompson

Bellingham

 

Editor,

To the voters of Bellingham:

Seth Fleetwood, because of his lifelong dedication to public service and consequently years of experience, is the obvious choice for Bellingham’s mayor.

Seth has vision and foresight, more so than anyone else I have ever known or worked with in Bellingham politics. Twenty-six years ago, Seth, myself and a few others wanted to expand the “Greenways Vision” before the opportunity would be lost forever. His leadership and planning was essential to the Greenways team’s success. Seth always worked collaboratively, utilizing all the talents and experiences of our group. 

Very recently Seth Fleetwood was strong enough to make public drug use a misdemeanor. This March, two teens and a 5-year-old died from drug overdoses and Seth acted.

Kim Lund did not support this proposal. Seth Fleetwood’s actions garnered headlines in the Seattle Times. “Laid back Bellingham, the most Hippie Town in Washington, gets tough on crime and bans public drug use.” I believe this is a step in the right direction.

Seth Fleetwood is the best choice for our mayor. “Actions speak louder than words.”

Jody Bergsma

Bellingham


Editor,

I’m excited to support Eamonn Collins (Ward 1) and Liz Darrow (Ward 3) in the upcoming Bellingham City Council elections. It’s time to elect new council members who will help Bellingham truly live up to the city’s 2021 resolution recognizing racism as a public health crisis.

It’s deeply concerning that the jail plan contained in Prop 4 lacks a racial equity analysis. Alarmingly, some officials who championed both Whatcom County’s 2020 resolution and Bellingham’s 2021 resolution are now backing this proposal that fails to even acknowledge the disproportionate representation of our Black and Indigenous community members in jail bookings. Black and Indigenous people make up 7% and 15% of jail bookings, yet represent only 1% and 3% of the county’s population — an undeniable disparity that cannot be ignored.

Liz Darrow and Eamonn Collins understand that racism is a public health crisis, not some distant question up for debate. They know we can’t incarcerate our way out of the humanitarian crises facing our communities. Their commitment to ensuring racial equity is evident, and they won’t wait around for inequality to fix itself. We need leaders who won’t let such important resolutions fade away as mere symbolic gestures, but who will use them as blueprints for real change.

For a Bellingham that truly believes in racial justice and translates that belief into actionable policies, I urge everyone to join me in voting for Eamonn Collins and Liz Darrow. Let’s make sure our resolutions don’t become empty promises.

Makenzie Graham

Bellingham

 

Editor,

Your caption to the photo of the interior of what I assume is the current jail (CDN, Oct. 13, 2023) is “Do voters trust local government to spend their money wisely — in this case they have to…,” meaning that the current state is so dire that there is no alternative, which may be true, but I could add to your caption the words “as the full cost has not been disclosed” giving the caption an altogether different meaning.

The $150 million figure for bond issuance quoted in your Prop 4 endorsement, without mentioning the issuance and servicing costs which have to be covered from somewhere, is certainly more transparent than the description “comfortable” used by the Lynden mayor in his recent guest commentary. Perhaps I’ve missed it, but it’s the first time I’ve seen a number quoted. There is no reference in the wording quoted in the Voters’ Pamphlet which arrived today.

It is also a lot of money. And remembering the limited explanation of the proposed distribution of funds to be raised via Prop 5 last year, how can voters be expected to trust local government to spend their money wisely if they are not fully informed of what is intended to be spent? 

Clearly an enormous effort has been made to devise a solution to a serious problem. How about sharing with voters the full story of how it’ll be funded?

Roger Griffin

Ferndale

 

Editor,

Russ Whidbee is the “other Democrat” running for city council at-large. You will not see Russ on your Democratic Party slate card. He ran for the party’s council-race endorsement against the party’s own vice chair, and it did not end well for Russ.

Whidbee has served the Whatcom County community for 40 years as a civic volunteer, most recently on the Bellingham Planning Commission. He is a professional financial analyst and accountant. Imagine, we could (finally!) have a council member who is professionally prepared to understand the city budget which staff hands them, and which they typically uncritically rubber-stamp. 

In terms of style, Russ is a moderate. He has friends “on both sides of the aisle,” which I find a welcome trait, but which some political activists might find suspicious. 

Again, Russ has 40 years of nonpartisan, collaborative experience in the private sector, in government commissions, and in academia. Check out Russ Whidbee’s phenomenal civic record at his campaign website trustruss.org.

Abe Jacobson

Bellingham

 

Editor,

Jan. 7, 2021 marked a turning point that shook my faith in government. It had been a year after the election chaos and a year of pandemic protocols. This day stands out because I have a video of my trip to the library after a long day at the hospital. Our City Hall had become a homeless encampment with our mayor barricaded in his office. “What is going on here? Where is the leadership? Where is the courage?” I asked myself.

I know that one person can make a difference. That person lives within each of us. We at the hospital learned right away we had no choice but to become everyday heroes. The librarians became heroes the day they stood up for safety and refused to open the library. This in turn forced our mayor to address the problems in his own front yard.

Kim Lund is the hero Bellingham needs right now! Kim has the strength to tackle difficult problems, the intelligence to understand complexity and the courage to do what is right. As a lifelong resident, she is powered by her love for this community. She is endorsed by first responders and police officers and other city employees alike. When she decided to run for office, she started by asking them — our everyday heroes — what they need to do their best work. She empowers and inspires. For the people, by the people! I urge you to vote for Kim Lund as our next mayor of Bellingham. 

Trevor Pitsch

Bellingham

 

Editor,

I sat in my high school office on a cold, rainy November morning, checking my email. A student stepped in and asked for a roll of duct tape. I paused. Little good comes from students armed with duct tape. I asked her why she needed it, and she promptly showed me her thrashed tennis shoes, soaking wet from heavy rains. She had no coat and was shivering. I knew this student and her sister had little parent involvement and they needed help with basic food, shelter and clothing. I picked up the phone and called Kim Lund, then president of the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation. Within minutes, I had money available to take my student and her sister shopping for their basic clothing needs.

This is one small example of the impact that defines the leadership Kim Lund will bring to Bellingham as our next mayor. Kim is compassionate, intentional and data-driven. A Bellingham native, Kim recognizes our city is at a critical juncture for addressing needs of the unhoused, climate concerns, health care and safety. These issues and others beg for a new collaborative approach for solutions. 

Kim is a listener. She is passionate and experienced in bringing constituents together to develop effective solutions to complex problems. Kim Lund has demonstrated time and time again that she is a pragmatic and action-oriented leader. She brings vision and hope for the future of Bellingham. Please support her at the polls.

Nancy K. Barga

Bellingham

 

Editor,

When a sibling punches another sibling, we know, instinctively and confidently, that the right response is not for the second sibling to punch back. How is it that we get this fundamental understanding so morally confused elsewhere?

As a millennial voter, I want desperately for Biden’s legacy to be the progress he is making on climate (excluding the total whiff of the Willow Project), incremental steps towards student loan forgiveness (despite a malfunctioning Congress) and the most pro-labor tenure since FDR. Instead, if we allow the passage of his $105 billion anti-terrorism proposal, his legacy will be a continuation of the war machine. He said it himself, that this funding will “pay dividends for American security for generations”: $61.4 billion for Ukraine, including nuclear programs; $14.3 billion to further Israel militarization (where many U.S. police officers train); $13.6 billion for continued border securitization; and $7.4 billion for Taiwan as a flex to China, does not indeed comfort me with lasting “security.” (The remaining $9.16 billion is earmarked for humanitarian aid.) 

Because we know violence begets violence, as is clear in the non-stop bombardment of Palestinians in response to the Hamas attack. We have the power to interrupt, to condemn attacks, to demand an immediate ceasefire, to build housing instead of jails. We could promote peace, fund health care to heal wounds, develop the muscle of harm reduction and allow ourselves to get inspired by the creative tenets of abolition. Another world is possible. Let’s make it so.

Elma Burnham

Mount Vernon

 

Editor,

I urge all Bellingham citizens to vote yes on the Greenways 5 levy, so that we can expand our exceptional park system as population continues to grow. This program, started in 1990, buys land for parks, open spaces, trails and community gardens. The latest levy expands the program to include urban forestry and climate resilience.

Brad Jones’ letter last week calls for a more “inclusive recreation portfolio.” What is more inclusive than outdoor recreation, parks and playgrounds, picnic tables and shelters, scenic views, hiking and bicycling trails, and wildlife habitat?

Brad asks what “data” we have showing the need for more parks. My answer is: the “yes” vote on four prior Greenways levies dating back to 1990. People voting with their tax dollars provide powerful data in favor of greenways. 

Eric Hirst

Bellingham

 

Editor,

PeaceHealth, by its own ill-conceived corporate-level policy decisions, became a political issue leading up to the Nov. 7 general election (CDN, Oct. 2, 2023). 

Because I’ve been a critic of some of PeaceHealth’s decisions, I think it’s only fair that I give them credit for doing something right. I spotted a “good news” flyer on a community bulletin board. 

PeaceHealth is offering a free service for anyone who wants to attend — yes, free! On the first Wednesday of every month, a certified diabetes educator/nutritionist will host a “Drop-In for Diabetes Answers” informal gathering. Just show up to ask your questions about prediabetes, diabetes, prevention and diet. They will provide support and guidance.  

No registration is required, simply drop in at PeaceHealth Medical Group, 4545 Cordata Parkway, lower level, conference room No. 1, from 3:30–4:30 p.m. Call 360-752-5601 for more information. 

What makes this PeaceHealth freebie even better, is that we are heading into November, which is National Diabetes Awareness Month. 

This is an important step for PeaceHealth in making amends and restoring trust with our community. 

Delores Davies

Ferndale

 

Editor,

Now that General Purpose Tech (GPT) is clearly able to “connect the dots,” if there’s only one candidate to vote for, I will write in “GPT.” Clearly, we’re still a year away from GPT being able to run the government, but after yet another year of clueless “human” incompetence, we the people will be begging for it?

John C. “I AM AI” Ruth

Bellingham

 

Editor,

This Nov. 7, please “pull the lever” to reelect Dan Hammill to the Bellingham City Council, representing Ward 3. We have the luxury of two good candidates, but experience wins out for me in this contest. In my work in the nonprofit sector over the last 15 years, Dan has been a consistent and reliable champion for the causes dear to my heart: mental health, housing, youth services, restorative justice and community safety for all segments of our community. He carried those commitments onto the city council eight years ago, and has kept the faith. Please reelect Dan Hammill!

Dean Wight

Bellingham

 

Editor,

As a Bellingham resident and landlord, I wholeheartedly support Initiative No. 2. It’s time we address the housing challenges in our community.  

Market rent in Bellingham has surged dramatically in recent years, far outpacing the increase in wages. I’ve witnessed firsthand the struggle that many residents face when their rent becomes a significant portion of their income. It’s clear that we need a change, one that ensures our neighbors can continue to afford a place to call home.

I’m in this for the long term. I recognize the value of maintaining long-term tenants. It’s a win-win situation — they have a stable, affordable place to live, and I have reliable, responsible renters. Unfortunately, not all landlords and property management companies share this perspective. Some are more interested in quick profits than the well-being of our community. I support this initiative because it protects renters after they experience the most extreme rent increases.

Initiative No. 2 is a crucial step in the right direction. It provides safeguards against the most egregious and extreme rent increases, ensuring that tenants aren’t priced out of their homes and don’t join the growing number of homeless on our streets. It encourages a sense of community, where tenants aren’t just seen as piggy banks but as people, and landlords work collaboratively with their tenants to build a better future for all of Bellingham.

Let’s unite as a community, landlords and tenants alike, to vote in favor of Initiative No. 2. It’s not just about protecting tenants; it’s about securing an affordable and inclusive Bellingham for everyone. 

Connie Elmore

Bellingham

 

Editor,

When considering our votes for mayor of Bellingham, let’s elect a champion. Mayor Fleetwood is that champion, with a proven record of managing our city through these unprecedented times, while applying his well-established leadership skills he has shown us while serving in both city and county councils.

Being mayor of a city our size is not an entry-level job by any means, and a champion is still needed with the current housing, drug and climate crises we face. He has proven to listen with empathy and respect resulting in thoughtful action. These qualities have been exemplified these past four years, and how exciting it will be to have Mayor Fleetwood lead us for the next four years. Let’s give him the opportunity to shine, even brighter, now that we are moving through the pandemic into different challenges. 

He is an environmental leader, who has championed successful Greenways initiatives over many years, of which we all experience the benefits of this great work. Having served on Bellingham’s Climate Action Task Force, I can speak firsthand on the complexities of driving climate action on the local level and Mayor Fleetwood is the qualified candidate to protect our future. 

He is a proven climate leader who acts smartly to build broad public support when it is needed. His experience in the political landscape, proven listening skills and thoughtful leadership are what make Mayor Fleetwood the best candidate for continued leadership. See what he has accomplished and future plans at sethfleetwood.com.

Jill MacIntyre Witt

Bellingham

 

Editor,

I’ve had the pleasure of having Dan Hammill as my colleague on Bellingham City Council for the last four years, and I urge voters to send him back to his seat to continue critical work on our communities most pressing issues. 

Before becoming a council member myself, I assumed that the majority of the job could be witnessed in council chambers or on BTV10. But that’s far from reality. Most of the work of an effective city council member doesn’t happen in front of a camera, or on social media, or under a spotlight. It’s in meetings with community members, on phone calls, speaking with city staff, learning from those on the front lines of an issue, or in discussions with leaders in other jurisdictions. It’s this collaborative, inquisitive and inclusive leadership that Dan excels at, and that is why he’s been a part of helping to get so many innovative programs off the ground in our community that address public safety, housing, behavioral health and environmental concerns. His good work is far from done. 

It’s years of being entrenched in these subjects that make Dan poised to spend the next four years tackling the most difficult challenges we have faced as a country in recent times. I know he will address them with an urgency that is thoughtful, deliberate and reflects Bellingham’s values. Please vote to send Dan Hammill back to Bellingham City Council so we can continue this work together. 

Hollie Huthman

Bellingham 

 

Editor,

On Oct. 9, Israel’s defense minister “ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel … We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly.”    

The next day Biden ended inflammatory comments with “The United States has Israel’s back. We’re with Israel.” So Israel continued targeting civilians: bombs demolished more than 22,600 homes and 10 medical facilities that day.  

Yet [Friday]’s front-page story (CDN, Oct. 13, 2023) was manifestly one-sided, highlighting three people with ties to Bellingham’s Jewish community while omitting anyone connected to Palestine.   

On [Saturday], 6-year-old Palestinian-American Wadea Al-Fayoume was murdered in his Illinois home by a landlord ranting against Muslims. This hate crime tragically illustrates the consequences of dehumanizing narratives. 

The Hamas attacks horrify — as does the ongoing occupation and bombardment of Palestine: 

1. 1947: Western nations proposed Palestinians surrender 55% of their land, diminishing their homeland to non-contiguous territories.     

2. Zionist militias then attempted ethnic cleansing of Palestine: destroying 500 villages, killing 15,000 and forcing 750,000 from their homes.   

3. Israel and Egypt have blockaded Gaza for 16 years.   

4. Illegal Israeli settlements encroach unimpeded into Palestinian territory with settler violence.       

5. More than 6 million Palestinians live as refugees today — including 75% of Gazans.  

Wadea’s family left the West Bank to escape settler violence.  

While Biden claimed he was “sickened” by Wadea’s murder, his support of state-sponsored brutality ignores the atrocity of Israeli bombs killing more than 5,700 Palestinians.  

L.P. Leong and Nick Scholtz

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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