Letters to the Editor, Week of Aug. 17, 2022

August 17, 2022 at 5:10 a.m.


Well, it’s official. The city is going forward with biosolids anaerobic digestion (CDN, Aug. 1, 2022). To make it official, the Mayor good-naturedly donned a hardhat and got photographed watching lumps of undefined origin go by on a conveyor belt.

And ... the city, well, almost got it right, too! But close only counts in horseshoes.

One option considered was Fluidized Bed Incineration (FBI); a high temperature, thermal treatment, almost one-on-one replacement for the existing furnaces.

Throw in some air-quality control equipment and, bada bing, bada boom, a relatively low-cost, robust upgrade. No toxic ash, handling and disposal similar to what’s already in place. Problem solved. 

But, alas, presented with this option, the city's brain trust recoiled with horror at the thought of high temperature “incineration.” Bellingham, known far and wide as the Great Green City on the Bay, would incur unacceptable damage to its reputation of single-handedly solving the world’s climate dilemma.

Thus, the city adopted anaerobic digestion, ensuring its reputation could continue unsullied.

Our new biosolids processing system is best pictured as a mechanical cow. A quarter-billion-dollar mechanical cow.

Our friendly cow consumes the semi-solid stinky stuff from the first stages of sewage treatment. The pathogens in the sludge are destroyed by bugs in Ms. Cow's stomach. But, there’s a catch. Ms. Cow unintentionally creates semi-dry manure that is claimed to be toxic. She also expels huge quantities of stinky gas. A gas way more “greenhousy” than CO2. 

The gas will be treated, though, and pipelined to the gas company to be burned elsewhere. Occasionally, it will be flared. On those occasions, the residents overlooking the plant will be treated at 3 a.m. to a romantic flickering yellow glow on their bedroom ceilings.

The toxic biosolids manure? Well, they’re still thinking about how to deal with it. High-temperature thermal treatment seems to be the winning option now.

Oh, the irony.

Bob Morton



These recent months have been incredibly challenging for women’s health and body autonomy. While women’s rights will continue to be protected in Washington state, it is worrying to know women in other states won’t have that same luxury. When researching more about the subject, I discovered an even more shocking truth. One that is rarely broadcasted but has a large impact on the global health of all women. 

Did you know that women living in Africa are 47 times more likely to die from complications related to childbirth? Eight hundred women will die today from childbirth across the world. The worst part about these deaths is that they are entirely preventable. We have the power to do something right now. There is currently a bill being debated on the floor of Congress called the Reach Every Mother and Child Act. This act would ensure there is a comprehensive plan to end preventable deaths related to childbirth by 2030.

We must do everything in our power to protect the lives and rights of women globally. This is why I am asking Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Maria Cantwell and Washington Rep. Rick Larsen to co-sign this bill and vote yes to protect the lives of women abroad, as well as at home.

Owen Juell



As chair of the Riveters Collective’s Justice System Committee (JSC), I learned about Ferndale Officer Langton’s 17-complaint history — more than five times that of other officers — in March 2021, after acquiring lists of complaints against law enforcement professionals from multiple agencies. Complaints about Langton had a consistent message: he’s rude, insulting, overly aggressive and harassing. Ferndale PD’s internal investigator always sided with Langton’s version of events, never finding him responsible.

However, research conducted by the JSC, documented in its Learn Why We Believe Public Safety Reform is Necessary series, found the Ferndale PD failed to conduct an adequate internal investigation into Langton’s alleged contact with the Oathkeepers or hold Langton accountable for any of the 17 complaints. It should not take a citizen committee to identify problem officers.

It concerns me that his status as a police officer appears to provide him special protections. Language in police union contracts and policies provide enough wiggle room, or don’t specifically include certain scenarios that agencies have a difficult time disciplining or firing bad cops. As a result, it looks like the City and Union protect the employee over the public. 

The JSC asked the City of Ferndale to improve police policies and union contracts. In November 2021 and February 2022, Mayor Greg Hansen assured the committee the city would review policies and stated, “robust discussions [are] already taking place about police conduct, tactics, hiring, discipline and community policing.”

“Going forward,” Mayor Hansen said, the “Ferndale Police Department policies and procedures will continue to evolve with lessons learned from [the Oathkeeper] situation.” 

The Herald recently reported that the city has made no policy or procedure changes. I urge Mayor Hansen to keep his promise by taking immediate action so that problematic officers can be identified early and more easily removed from public service.

Krystal Rodriguez 



It appears the big winners in this primary were Rick Larsen’s funders, the Merchants of Death and profit: Marathon Oil; Exxon Mobil; Shell; Conoco Phillips; Alaska Airlines; Atlas Air; Big Pharma; AIPAC; weapons manufacturers like Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman; Goldman Sachs; Russell Investments; American Bankers Association and more. 

Federal defense spending is $813 billion per year, two-thirds of overall federal spending. Even before adding millions in sending nukes to Ukraine, the Pentagon budget increased by $42 billion in the last year. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib notes that the U.S. spends $210 million per day for Israel to commit genocide on Palestinians with our tax money.  

Per Public Citizen, “Military-industrial complex clinches nearly 450,000% return on investment.” OpenSecrets.org reports $10.2 billion in the 2022 election for lawmakers who lavished billions more than the Pentagon or White House even requested. 

I don’t know what prompted citizens to vote for this abomination; I don’t personally know anyone that voted for Larsen, even conservative friends. I make sure my retirement is not invested in those businesses, and wonder what the hell voters were thinking. They had a brilliant and ethical candidate in Jason Call, but apparently, corruption is more profitable.   

Then there was this unknown Christian fundamentalist Dan Matthews, no sign of any public campaign whatsoever, who came out of left field to win second place. Jason had hundreds of signs in the county, which I’m still collecting. My plan is to write-in Jason Call’s name in November, and I invite others to join me.

Dianne Foster



Thank you to the Whatcom County Election Office for another successful election. The election office and volunteers are passionate about providing Whatcom County with a smooth and transparent election. Recent enhancements that provide transparency and invite voters to observe and learn about the election process include tours of the election process available to voters, webcams for viewing ballot processing, and an online video to learn about many aspects of the process. We commend the staff and many volunteers who work diligently to process each of our ballots with care and accuracy.

Whatcom County Voters turned out to elect the top two candidates in the Aug. 2 primary. As of this writing, over 47% of registered voters in the county returned their ballot! This beats the state average turnout which is less than 40%. However, we are disappointed that young adults are not voting regularly. Over 73% of the voters over 65 years voted but only 23% of the voters in our county who are 18–24 years old cast their ballots.

The Secretary of State’s office has posted Ballot Return statistics here: sos.wa.gov/elections/research/ballot-return-statistics.aspx. You can drill down to see how our county compares with the state averages.

Be a voter. Volunteers in the Bellingham/Whatcom County League of Women Voters are urging voters of all ages to get informed and participate in the Nov. 8 general election this year. We will elect our representatives in the U.S. Congress, state Legislature and several other offices. These officials have the power to enact laws that impact our neighborhoods, economy, education system and our future.  Your vote is your voice, so use it to choose the person who represents your values.

The League of Women Voters will help you get informed about candidates for the upcoming midterm election. We will offer candidate forums in October and also provide an online voting guide at Vote411.org. The League is non-partisan and does not endorse candidates or political parties.

Annette Holcomb


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