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Letters to the Editor, Week of Jan. 10, 2024

Working waterfront run amok, empty buses, insurrection and wolverines


As a CDN reader who’s been sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see whether you’ll be true your mission, I’m inspired by your last few months of local reporting and the strong reader presence that comes through loud and clear with every issue. So I subscribed today, and I hope others who may be on the sidelines will do the same.

Your rock-solid commitment to local journalism is giving voice to our community’s top interests and concerns — most importantly, deep and well-founded worries about what’s going on with PeaceHealth and ABC Recycling.

Every day, you publish timely, relevant local content that the Bellingham Herald is sadly lacking. I interned as a reporter at the Herald a few decades ago (in the years before McClatchy and, now, its hedge fund ownership). Back then, it had a healthy number of local reporters, and the newsroom was in closer touch with what mattered to the community.

Bravo on living your mission, CDN! Keep going!

Karen Wilson




CDN recently announced that it would be doing a series on “What is a Working Port?” We’re hopeful that the series would include shipping terminal shutdown. 

Port management continues to leave a trail of bad business decisions. Accomplishments to date include the Harcourt fiasco with unfinished condos; complete failure of the GP [Georgia-Pacific] site redevelopment; a dubious “Convention Center”; allowing illegal toxic waste piles to accumulate; and now the scrap operation. All this after millions have been spent cleaning the area up.

Bellingham’s economy, historically, was based on “extractive industries.” At the turn of the last century, Bellingham had a robust industrial base including timber, coal, canning and shipbuilding. The shipping terminal evolved organically meeting the needs of those industries.

Those days are gone now. The terminal has sat idle for many years as those industries disappeared. The need for a local terminal is gone. What we’re left with is a solution in search of a need, and even now the port brain trust is struggling to justify the terminal’s existence. 

Recently, the port purchased an expensive crane which sits idle. They’re investing even more taxpayer money in a dredging operation with no indication that the hoped-for traffic will miraculously appear. Contracting to ship another country’s toxic waste is a desperate measure to keep the asset alive and bad for the city. Performing CPR in a funeral home is the port’s solution.

The terminal has outlived its purpose. Shut it down and move on.

Bob Morton




I agree with and applaud “ABC Recycling’s scrap metal plan: 30 jobs at what cost?” by [guest writers] Susan Salyer and Thomas Neumann (CDN, Jan. 5, 2023). ABC is often praised by Riley Sweeney as being a family-owned business, as if that guarantees their honesty and benevolence. And yet Purdue Pharma, the fine folks who brought you the opioid epidemic, is also a family-owned business. Not to mention the mafia …

Deborah Wessell



I am a fan of the Daily and always look forward to the latest. I just read the article about parking for WWU sports. I wish that there had been mention of WTA buses and bicycling. Traffic is getting worse, buses are underutilized, environmental concerns are abundant, bicycles are collecting dust. 

A Blue Line bus comes along every 15 minutes between WWU and downtown where multiple connections are available. It costs 50 cents for seniors, veterans and people with a disability; $1 for adults and is free for those under 18 and over 75.

As for bicycles, sure, there is a weather factor, but good days occur. Despite the proliferation of e-bikes, there was no mention or encouragement to use them for functional purposes. They aren’t just for putting on the back of the car to drive down to the interurban trail for a sunny little spin. 

We need to take this more seriously. Though it takes a shift in strategy initially, it really is very easy and liberating, for those physically able, to get around in this city by bus, by bicycle, by foot. Plus it’s safer to have a drink or pop a gummy if you’re at a WWU event or any other social activity. The emphasis cannot continue to be on automobiles when that is already the habit of most everybody in town. The conversation needs to pivot to alternative modes.

I know that the bus system or bicycles are not for everyone but they need to continue to be included in conversations, newspaper stories and planning. The realistic goal is obviously not for everyone to bus or bike all of the time, but rather for more people to do it some of the time. 

I’m writing from the 6:40 a.m. 80X bus (and often bicycling one or both ways) to my job in Mount Vernon.

Pete Sharp



How cognitively impaired must a voter be to believe Republicans actually know anything about economic issues?

Every day some leader of the GOP is spouting off about how poorly Joe Biden’s economy is doing for our nation. Yet the real experts in economic issues constantly have to remind Americans that by every manner of economic measure, Biden’s economy is not only making Trump’s economic prowess out to be nothing but a bald-faced lie, but the elected Democratic President’s economic record one of the best in our history.

So how is one to believe the Republican party is anything but a gang of lying fools?  Is it because they can lie shamelessly with straight faces and know their followers are gullible enough to buy it?  

And how can any Trumper believe that, despite a total lack of any kind of verifiable evidence, Biden somehow had anything to do with his son’s problems, or that this adds up to corruption? Verifiable, solid evidence makes it clear that Trump and his family personally benefited to the tune of tens of millions of dollars during his presidency because Trump refused to do what every President before him has done … divested themselves of their business interests while in office.

As long as the GOP continues to spread such certifiable bovine fertilizer, they had better get used to the hate, revulsion and disrespect they are bringing on themselves. Do they really believe they and their savior will not eventually have to pay the piper?

Michael Waite



Consider this: In 1859, John Brown and his crew attacked an Army arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Their goal? To end slavery through a violent act. Their fate? Brown and six of his surviving comrades were hung in 1860. 

Consider this: In 1954, four Puerto Rican nationalists attacked the U.S. Capitol, wounding five members of the House of Representatives. Their goal? Independence for Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, through a violent act. Their fate? The men were sentenced to 75 years in prison, a woman to 50.  Moreover, although there was no evidence to link the president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party to the attack, he was arrested and sent to prison, where he died a few years later. 

Consider this: On Jan. 6, 2021, the U.S. Capitol was invaded by thousands of insurrectionists. Their goal? To topple the U.S. government by taking over Congress through a violent act. Their fate? In most cases, short prison sentences, yet those who incited the attack remain free, as do many who participated directly. 

Finally, consider this: None of those involved in the 1859 or 1954 attacks was ever free to repeat their offense. None was allowed to participate again in the democracy they attacked with violent acts. All faced a judicial system firm in its dedication to the survival of our nation and its democratic institutions, including the Constitution.

The takeaway: If you choose to attack our democracy, be certain your reasons are trivial, if not completely fictional, your cause self-serving. You will live to try again, and again and again.  

John Purdy




According to the Constitution’s definition of treason: “Levying war against the government and aiding and abetting its enemies,” every Confederate soldier in the Civil War — as well as every political leader — was a traitor. And while no one, including Confederate President Jefferson Davis, was ever tried for the “crime,” until the Amnesty Act of 1872, all were barred by the 14th Amendment from seeking office.

The evolution of language has complicated discerning the *intent* of the Constitution’s framers. Yes, anyone who “engaged in insurrection” cannot hold public office — presumably including the “Highest Office in the Land.” But “engage” is not a legal term. 

In my opinion, the issue reduces to the meaning of 22 words. Specifically, how would a *reasonable person* interpret?:

“And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” 

Unfortunately, there is no context for them in (then) President Trump’s address to the crowd assembled at the White House on Jan. 6, 2021. No qualifying exhortation to “Call/write/plead (in person)” with your elected representative, or engage in civil disobedience. But neither did he say, “To the Senate Chamber, with torches and pitchforks!” Or even, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome …Pence?”

Oh, the ambiguity!

Depending on what “The Nine” — SCOTUS, not Ringwraiths — do, world history could someday characterize Jan. 6, 2021 as our Gunpowder Day … or the first salvo in an American coup d’état, albeit premature.

Hmm, come Nov. 6, folks might be swapping out MAGA hats for Guy Fawkes masks. V is for Vendetta!

Omar Firestone




Just read CDN’s piece on Washington wolverines and their climate struggles (CDN, Jan. 3, 2024). Two days after the University of Washington Huskies earned the chance to face off against the Michigan Wolverines for the College Football National Championship, I was scanning for a touchdown reference in the article — nada.

A little sports nod could’ve turned this serious piece into a game-changer, making eco-news as thrilling as the anticipation for a championship game. Opportunity missed!

Still rooting for CDN, but let’s not miss the fun in fundamentals!

Andrew Stine-Rowe




How often do we hear, “I am so thankful I live in Whatcom County.”  Yes, many of us feel we have made a wise decision to call it home. The quality of life here didn’t happen by chance but by the collective effort of our community. 

I am thankful for parents and teachers of school-aged children and for nonprofits whose missions support children and many levels of education. To maintain a quality of life that allows every child in Whatcom County to chart a course in their life as an educated adult, we cannot sit on the sidelines and be silent.  When we look at the levies and bonds in Whatcom County’s special election on Feb. 13, 2024, we have a social responsibility as a resident of Whatcom County this February to VOTE — to support education for all children.

Helen Moran




Property taxes on our house in Bellingham increased 27% since 2020, far outpacing income growth. Now, just four months after voters approved a 48% increase in the Greenways levy, we are being asked by school districts to “replace” two levies starting in 2025.

Taxing districts and levy proponents like to couch their campaigns using terms like “renewal”, “replacement” or “maintain,” and sometimes say the request is a “reduction”. These words are often misleading. 

Every media article called the Greenways levy a “reduction” but failed to look at the true facts. In 2023, the Greenways levy was just under 28 cents per thousand. The renewed Greenways levy is 41 cents and will increase tax collections by $3.5 million in 2024 (over $9 million total). 

The 2022 EMS levy said it reflected no increase to the rate approved by voters in 2017. But from 2017 to 2022, assessed values increased 62%. The 2022 EMS levy was just under 20 cents per thousand but the 2023 rate went up to 25 cents per thousand at the same time as many residential assessed values went up 28%.

Bellingham Schools says that their request is a “replacement.” Yet each year, the two levies will collect $3 million more than the year before, an annual increase of 5%. Why 5%?  I’m not sure I will call that a replacement. 

Other school district levies say the rate will stay consistent. What happens if your assessed values go up 20% again? Find out and then vote.

David Stalheim




Dear Ferndale voters,

On Feb. 13, the Ferndale School District will ask you to support the replacement levy. This levy keeps the district running. Not only does it fund extracurricular activities, it funds programs — such as special education — that are mandated by the state, but not funded. You may not have a child in special education, but most likely you know someone who does. Special education covers a wide range of services, from a student who needs help with speech articulation, to a severely impacted student. These services are critical for the student to achieve their life goals.

I implore you to support the levy. The students need it.

Myla Musselwhite




Do you feel trapped in a broken economic model that’s trashing the living world and threatens the lives of our descendants? A model that excludes billions of people while making a handful unimaginably rich? That sorts us into winners and losers, and then blames the losers for their misfortune?  

Tired of the same old psalm … the cynical polarizing libretto of a self-fulfilling prophesy of Armageddon, The Apocalypso in the key of G(OP) major of victimhood and grievance of crypto-fascist theocrats?

It’s time to compose a radically different song. A new positive snappier melody of collective social re-calibration, from ME … to WE … and the return to a sense of shared sacrifice and community with appeal to a wide range of people, crossing political fault lines, resonating the deep needs and desires. 

Simple and intelligible, it should be grounded in reality embracing common core democratic values you want your children, and your children’s children to live and flourish:

•    Universal access to quality, affordable health care for everyone as a basic human right.

•    The right of every woman to make autonomous decisions about her own body and reproductive functions as the core of her basic rights to equality and privacy.

•    Environmental justice with access to healthy food, clean air and water for everyone. 

•    Equal social and economic equality and opportunity for all, and the inalienable right to the preservation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

•    And finally, free and fair elections … and equal justice, without fear or favor, for all. For it is the rule of law that makes democracy possible, but the human inclination to do injustice to others that makes democracy necessary.

Michael Kominsky


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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