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Letters to the Editor, Week of Sept. 27, 2023

Police ethics, sofa dumping, the jail and scrap recycling noise

Editor,

As a longtime (former) member of the Bellingham Police Community Advisory Council, I am sorry that Detective Adam “Bo” McGinty made a mistake that caused him to lose his job (CDN, Sept. 21, 2023). But even just a little corruption (misuse of a small amount of public funds through deception) is too much in public service, especially law enforcement. (Granted, he is innocent of a crime until proven guilty.)

Unfortunately, police departments are not long on credibility at the moment, and having his colleagues put on an unauthorized celebration for him upon his departure is emblematic of the culture of tone-deafness that can sometimes afflict parts of the law enforcement community. It is doubtful that the police or prosecutors would similarly celebrate anyone else accused of such a crime.

I have watched many years of effort to professionalize the rank and file of the Bellingham Police force and find this whole matter to be a backsliding disappointment. I would urge the attendees of that celebration to consider how their actions portray to the public their own ethical standards and those of their colleagues. Trust is hard to earn and easy to lose.

Craig Cole

Bellingham

 

Editor,

I see that Bo McGinty got a hero’s send-off, complete with a flag-raising. I think the revelers missed an opportunity to hoist a freshly pressed shirt and slacks in his honor. Shame on the BPD officers who organized this display (at taxpayer expense) for not having the sense of humor to see McGinty off in the proper way.

Matt Mearns

Mount Vernon


Editor,

I strongly support Kim Lund for mayor of Bellingham.

No single person can solve our complex issues. Because I have seen Kim build amazing teams, I know she is well qualified for the role.

Bellingham’s challenges require strong, ongoing leadership and excellent communication skills, plus the ability to effectively collaborate between private and government institutions. Kim embodies these skills.

Our community is wonderful. Our leadership has struggled. It is time for a “reset.” A new, fresh, decisive approach to solving our very real problems. It is time that residents see true progress: enhanced personal safety, a healthy downtown and action on the housing crisis. It is time for coordinated research between cities and state government.

Kim is extremely bright, and a strong communicator and collaborator. She is known and trusted by a remarkable collection of individuals and groups who share one common goal: to make Bellingham the best it can be.

I watched Kim build a successful foundation for our local school district. She created opportunities for all students and promoted equity and inclusion. Her successful background as an effective manager in a private company, as a community volunteer and leader, (plus raising two kids) required her budgeting and management skills.

Kim is a tested leader and problem solver.

Born and raised in Bellingham, Kim deeply loves her hometown. Kim has an exciting vision for Bellingham. She is a stellar success story of hard work, passion and the belief Bellingham is an amazing place to live, work and play.

Please vote for Kim Lund.

Leslie Farris

Bellingham

 

Editor,

I was glad to see a former WWU student addressing the quarterly garbage left behind in our neighborhoods (CDN, Sept. 18. 2023). I’ve lived in many university ’hoods and Bellingham is the first place I’ve seen this careless practice. 

I was in an SDS household in the late ’60s at the University of Washington; we moved often from one rental to another, but never left a piece of anything behind. Fast forward to Eugene in the ’90s, when my family rented from greedy landlords who pushed us out as they could make more money renting by the bedroom to undergrads. I was working three jobs putting my husband through school and older daughter through a bone marrow transplant. Again, we never left a stick of anything in the yard. 

Imagine my disgust at Bellingham, where we see garbage left behind every quarter; 20 years of discussion at neighborhood meetings and nothing has changed. This August was the worst I’ve seen in years, and after they were given a $22,498 grant to clean it up! 

Around the corner from my house is a pile of moldy mattresses with a “Got Junk?” sign on top of it. Nothing should go to the dumpsters. At some point there won’t be enough landfill left. We’ll have to shoot this crap to Mars. 

We still have a stuffed chair made in the 1940s. I do think a refundable fee of $100 for landlords to put in escrow with the City of Bellingham each quarter might incentivize them to keep the furniture, renting as “furnished.” 

Dianne Foster

Bellingham

 

Editor,

It was most interesting to read ABC Recycling Community Manager Riley Sweeney’s remarks in CDN (Sept. 7, 2023) concerning the proposed metal shredder plant. However, Mr. Sweeney raised more questions than he actually answered. 

For example: 

1. Does such a metal shredding plant currently exist? Can local leaders examine this environmentally safe, quiet and community-friendly plant? What would it actually cost to build a similar pant in Bellingham? 

2. What are the zoning requirements and environmental regulations for this metal shredding plant? How are they enforced to prevent violations? 

3. What technology would be used to contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and nuisance odors. More importantly, how and where would these cancer-causing compounds be stored and later disposed?

4. Why would ABC Recycling, a Canadian company, not want to build this environmentally friendly plant at one of their sites in British Columbia? Could the less restrictive U.S. laws and requirements be a factor motivating ABC Recycling? Certainly truck transportation to Bellingham for millions of tons of metals every year is very expensive. 

5. After ABC leases run out, how much will it cost to clean up another toxic waste site? Our local leaders already spent millions of dollars cleaning up the contaminated dioxin and mercury-laden soil from the old Georgia Pacific paper plant. It would be wise to read the Wendy Harris article “Bellingham’s Dioxin-Contaminated Mountain” in the February 2013 issue of Whatcom Watch.

Thomas Gilmore

Bellingham


Editor,

A health issues committee chairperson of a large Bellingham/Whatcom County organization recently requested that PeaceHealth provide a speaker to clarify unanswered questions related to its redesigned outpatient palliative care program, which will allegedly be reinstated in early 2024, pending personnel recruitment. 

PeaceHealth’s senior director of marketing and communications declined the invitation, on the basis that a recent guest essay in Cascadia Daily News (Sept. 1, 2023), “clearly articulates the issues and process from the perspective of those most closely involved. I encourage you to distribute the link to your members so that all have the most up-to-date, accurate information.”

I’m not a member of the organization that sent the invitation to PeaceHealth, but information is shared in our active community. As such, I saw the PeaceHealth employee’s negative RSVP. I am concerned because the guest essay does not “clearly articulate” the program to the community — patients and families included. 

The PeaceHealth communications specialist also stated that “we are now on a healing, collaborative path working with our key stakeholders on a new, sustainable model of care that satisfies PeaceHealth leaders, the local program founders, and most importantly, our patients.” 

To me, a collaborative, healing path requires that PeaceHealth actually meet with the community it serves, which includes patients and their families. The “ethical compass” that guides public relations and communications practitioners should be beyond reproach. 

Please PeaceHealth, have a change of heart and meet with the community — you’d reassure your internal and external audiences. 

Delores Davies

Ferndale

 

Editor,

For some of us, outdoor recreation (other than in one’s own backyard or around the perimeter of Lake Padden) is best experienced vicariously — largely on account of such phenomena as biting flies and mosquitoes, swarms of stinging yellow jackets, and the threat (largely imagined) of meeting a stalking panther or lumbering bear around the next curve in the path. And then there’s rain.

Thanks to the spirited writing of Elliott Almond, one can enjoy — or endure — what the wilderness has to offer from the comfort and security of the easy chair.  

Admittedly, one may encounter ill-tempered yellow jackets in the supposed security of the backyard. My first remembered experience of such — as a very young kid, long, long ago — led to a painfully swollen knee. On which my mother smeared mud. To this day, I can swear the mud drew out the pain. Then again, it may have simply been the application of my mother’s love.

Paul Kenna

Bellingham


Editor,

How do candidates stack up against a hard metric, rather than their own self-promotion?

In the Cascadia Daily’s interviews with local candidates, all are able to “toot their own horn.” Can we probe deeper?

The sine qua non of a candidate’s sincerity and worthiness to hold office is whether they have even bothered to vote. If, over the years of their residency here, they could not be bothered to vote for local candidates (right or left, does not matter!), then why should that candidate’s sincerity and commitment be taken seriously today? 

The public voter file (from the county auditor) provides a complete record of when each eligible county resident registered to vote, and when subsequently they voted or did not. You can download the file.

Let’s apply this metric of sincerity/commitment to the 2023 county council at-large race, in which Hannah Ordos and Jonathan Scanlon are running in a local (odd-year) race. Here are the auditor’s voting file records for the date of registration in this county and for subsequent voting participation in local (odd-year) elections:

Ordos (registered 11/02/2008): 2009: NO. 2011: NO. 2013: NO. 2015: NO. 2017: NO. 2019: NO. 2011: YES. Score: 1/7, 14%.

Scanlon (registered 10/04/2010): 2009: NA. 2011: YES. 2013: YES. 2015: YES. 2017: YES. 2019: YES. 2021: YES. Score: 6/6, 100%.

It’s plain as day that for one of these candidates (Hannah Ordos), local governance did not much matter. Whereas the other candidate (Jonathan Scanlon) voted 100%.

That signal fact matters a lot more than self-puffery.

Abe Jacobson

Bellingham

 

Editor,

The recent opinion piece by Lynden Mayor Scott Korthuis (Sept. 22, 2023) left out an important component of the tax issue: the Execution Plan.  

The 30,000-foot view of the Execution Plan:

The proposed sales tax is part of a new program called the “Justice Project Needs Assessment Implementation Plan” (JPNAIP). 

The JPNAIP is a bundle of 15 separate related existing and new programs or “projects.” The new sales tax funds five of these projects:

Project 6: Increase the capacity of existing programs to divert people from incarceration.

Project 7: Build a 23-hour crisis relief center.

Project 8: Build a new jail and behavioral treatment center.

Project 10: Ensure people leaving detention and treatment have transport to a safe destination.

Project 11: Bolster re-entry and support services.

For Project 7, the capital budget is $12 million. This project has already received $9 million in funding and is progressing.

For Project 8, the jail, capital budget is $8 million per year. No work will be started the first year after sales tax approval. A 36-month window exists to start work on the new jail. Given the typical 24-month design construct timeline, worst case, it could be four to five years before the jail facilities are open for business.

The jail and treatment center projects must be progressed concurrently; the scope and cost of the facilities must be well defined before asking for voter approval. The voter is encouraged to read the JPNAIP before voting. 

The current Execution Plan is a bad deal for public safety. Vote no.

Bob Morton

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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