Letters to the Editor, Week of July 20, 2022

July 20, 2022 at 5:55 a.m.


Last week the Cascadia Daily News (“WinkWink employees facing threats, backlash over youth sex-ed classes,” CDN July 12) carried an article about Bellingham's new WinkWink storefront and the FOX News reaction. The Bellingham Herald covered the story as it related to the Bellingham School District on July 17.  

The public might like to know that across the nation there is a church-related OWL [“Our Whole Lives”] program for 9–12 and 13–17-year-old youth, young adults and adults. The OWL program is sponsored by the Unitarian Universalists and United Church of Christ and was developed together. It is also about consent, puberty, sexuality and respect for yourself and others. Everyone needs to share thoughts and questions about a lot of life issues. 

OWL is a program that stimulates thought and sharing as parts of society have really confused sexual identity “rules” and how they are personified. Between easy, confusing mass media messages and demanding social pressure, many people need and want a curriculum to enable discussion regarding human choice, responsibility and individualism. That is one reason that 58% of Washington voters passed Referendum 90 in 2020.

WinkWink may have found a public niche for this kind of education. People should know that it is also available through many local churches. 

Donna Starr



Ron Judd’s recent opinion piece about not flying the flag on the Fourth of July resonated with this reader for two reasons. One is because of what he said about why many people will no longer fly one. It’s been weaponized; it’s come to represent something many of us do not agree with, and we don’t want to be lumped in with people who have co-opted it for their own ends. It’s not enough for them to display just one flag; they display several, some of them quite large, on their homes and on their vehicles. I lived overseas for several years and never have seen any other country’s flags displayed by individuals to anywhere near the extent that people do in the U.S. This difference was immediately noticeable when I returned here.

The other thing Ron mentioned that struck a nerve was the story of the man who worried about being shot while walking in a park. I go out once a week for groceries and to run errands, the schedule I kept to during the pandemic. I walk several times a week as well, in different areas of Bellingham. I never used to worry before, but now when I go out, I wonder, is today the day I’m going to be shot just going about my business?

Lauren St. Pierre 



Once again, another community is devastated by a shooter massacring innocent people. 

Mass shootings are nearing an all-time high of two daily in our country. Death by guns is now the leading cause of death among American children.

There are more guns than citizens in our country. We must reduce gun violence through enacting effective regulation of gun sales. Offer incentives such as gun buy-back programs. Ban military-style weapons. Require background checks, safe storage, red flag laws. Raise the age to 25 for all gun purchasers. Require training and permits that need to be renewed regularly. Teachers do background checks annually. Why shouldn't gun purchasers do the same?

Sadly, as an educator, more than one of my students has committed suicide. Access to an unsecured gun at home was a factor. Brain research tells us that the frontal lobe of the adolescent brain, which regulates impulsivity, is not fully developed until age 25.  

Our Constitution grants the right to “bear arms” and references “a well-regulated militia.” It is high time we defined what these terms mean in 2022, not 1791. I demand action from our legislators to extinguish gun violence from our culture. If we do not, you, your family or your friends may be next.

Nancy Kelley Sheng



Now, perhaps more than ever, each vote matters. Please, please study the candidates; pick the one(s) who align with your values and VOTE in the primaries and in the general midterm election in November. Voting is a privilege and a responsibility. Step up, people!

Susanne Smith



What is Bellingham’s growth industry? Forget craft brewing, judging by the articles, “Ruling on 300-bed homeless shelter expected in July,” CDN, June 1, and “Drug levels inside 22 North below contamination standard,” CDN, July 6, it surely must be services for the homeless. 

I’ve lived in Bellingham for seven years. I’ve witnessed the increase in people unwilling to incorporate into productive society.

This is not just a Lettered Streets problem. It’s not just one block on North State Street. Take a drive to the south end of Cornwall Avenue. Remember the encampment at City Hall in the winter of 2020–21? I don’t remember hearing how much tax money was spent repairing that damage. Could a homeless camp show up in your neighborhood? 

If you enable something, you get more of it. In this case, the “something” is lifestyles of failure.

Before you write that check for the Lighthouse Mission, ask yourself, do I really want my city to become a mecca for homelessness?

Walt Lowery




It's fair to hold an elected official accountable for their voting record. What is not fair is to misrepresent and distort that record.

Many of us have received a mailer saying Sharon Shewmake voted to make it more expensive to stay in our homes. If true, that would be alarming. And also totally at odds with her legislative record.

But it is not true.

The bill mentioned on the attack mailer is SB 5998, which Shewmake voted for in 2019. It is not about property taxes affecting those who stay in their homes but about taxes on home sales. And that bill actually lowered the excise tax rate on the sale of any home for $500,000 or less. It even results in a slightly lower tax rate on homes up to $1.5 million. Check it out.

Those selling homes for more than a million and a half dollars can surely afford to pay a higher tax rate — on the portion above that amount. Which is what the bill calls for. How many of us are in that market? Not many.

Let's be clear: This legislation cuts sales taxes on lower- and mid-priced homes. 

The folks who wrote and sent that attack mailer know it is false. They just hope we'll be confused by the scary headlines smearing Rep. Shewmake. 

This mailer is a dirty trick. Stop the sleaze.

Myra Ramos    

Lummi Island 


Most voters don’t know who to vote for when it comes to judges. But we all know that there are certain qualities we expect in our judges — integrity, legal experience and accomplishment, fairness and a good balance of both compassion and accountability. In short, we have a right to expect that our judges be the best the legal profession has to offer.

I have had the opportunity to meet with all three candidates for District Court Judge this year and have found Jonathan Rands is head and shoulders above his opponents. For 20 years, Jonathan has been representing ordinary folks in our county’s District Court, and in my view, he understands the challenges of making our communities safer and healthier places to live and work. Jonathan has shown a willingness to be an innovative leader and someone who listens to the many different voices in our county. We need his depth of experience and his integrity. 

Jonathan is the only candidate in this race who has earned the endorsement of both parties. We need more judges who understand that the core of an equitable justice system comes from our Constitution and the rule of law. Jonathan Rands, in my opinion, will be a judge who will ensure due process and will protect our constitutional rights in the courtroom. I urge you to cast your vote for Jonathan Rands for Judge.

Dan Robbins 



I’m writing regarding Bellingham’s proposed Climate Action Fund tax to finance climate change.

According to a Cascadia Daily News article in late June, (“Mayor gets cold feet on climate tax,” June 21, 2022) the Climate Action fund proposed a property tax of 37 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

I absolutely support a Climate Action Fund but why tax property owners, which affects all citizens whether we own or rent? Why should a household who lives car-free or car-light subsidize yet another entitlement for motor vehicles, in addition to subsidizing “free” parking all over town, mitigating water pollution that affects our drinking water and salmon habitat to name a few? 

Is it equitable for a car-free or car-light household who walks/bikes/buses for the majority of trips to pay the same rate as neighbors who drive in and out of their homes throughout the day? 

Look around at the car traffic in our town. Bellingham talks a great talk regarding care of the environment and working to address climate change, except when it comes to our sacred cars!  And the Climate Action committee wants yet another subsidy for drivers? Really? Where, oh where is the justice in this? Please, don’t penalize our citizens who are living part of the climate change solution! Charge the tax where it belongs, at the gas pump, and let’s all choose to drive less in support of a healthier world. 

Donna Merlina



Whatcom County has been suffering from exorbitant rent for years, and despite the efforts of the city and county, the problem is getting worse. For some, rent has increased 60% and more over the last couple of years. There are long-term efforts to lower rents, like building more houses to eventually bring down the cost of housing so more people can buy houses, and so fewer people need to rent so landlords have to offer lower rent. But these methods are indirect and take too long for desperate tenants today. 

When I ask a city or county official why we don't have rent control, they shrug and reply that the state has a law against it. So why don't we change that law? Or we could also establish a dissuasive tax on rent increases that exceed the official cost of living by a certain percentage. Maybe incumbent officials think that people who are so poor that they are affected by spirit-killing exorbitant rent lack the energy to vote, so these people can be ignored. 

John Holstein



I am writing in support of my friend and colleague David Nelson for District Court Judge. For the last 26 years, David Nelson has served as Ferndale's municipal prosecutor and he brings his lifetime of public service to the bench. 

Nelson is exactly what we need for our district courts. His passion for community safety and his commitment to restorative justice will serve Whatcom well. His volunteer work with Lydia Place, the Evergreen AIDS Foundation and on domestic violence prevention speaks to his values. As a judge, he will work to implement better translation services so those in court can be truly heard as part of the process. He will improve access to mental health services and ensure that everyone in our justice system is treated with respect. 

Nelson is the only judge in the race to be rated “well qualified” by the Whatcom County Bar Association, and deservedly so. I urge you to join me in supporting David Nelson as our next District Court Judge.

Riley Sweeney



Rep. Alex Ramel has been working hard on some of the most pressing issues facing our community and the state. One of those issues is working to fix our upside-down tax code. Currently, our state’s tax code results in those making the least paying the highest rates. Also, small businesses and startups shouldn't have to pay a higher share of their revenue than major corporations. Alex is working hard to change that.

As a member of the finance committee, Alex has helped take us in the direction of a fairer tax system. He co-sponsored the Working Families Tax Credit and helped change the B&O tax thresholds to support the smallest businesses, and those just getting started. His plan is to continue to work toward changes that move us toward a more progressive tax structure.

Alex also understands that housing costs are a major driver of the rising cost of living, so he has worked to support missing middle housing and community land trusts. With Alex’s support, the legislature invested $439 million for building affordable homes and removed the excise taxes for construction of affordable housing. 

Alex is working for our best interests and is not beholden to what big corporations want. Making our tax system fair and improving our housing crisis benefits all of us. Please join me and vote for Alex Ramel on your primary ballot (due Aug. 2).

Nancy Orlowski



I am enthusiastic to vote for Richard May for the 42nd Legislative District Position 2. He has been a strong voice in local government for so many years, his focus on small business and smart growth has helped downtowns including Blaine and Everson on the path to success. He always makes time to take people's calls and emails or meet with them. Richard has been a tireless champion for libraries and for keeping kids in school, and many years of volunteering for river cleanup and habitat management that helps salmon, farmers and neighbors.

We've had smart newcomers do a great job, but if elected, Richard would be the only one of our three state positions to be held by someone who was actually here in Whatcom throughout the last 25 years, with the institutional knowledge and background on how our challenges and trial & error have gotten us to where we are now. Background isn't everything, but it can be an asset to personally know the lay of the land. My vote is for Richard May.

Laurie Jordan


Beginning this week, Cascadia Daily News, due to a high volume of letters, will begin posting an expanded version of its weekly print letter section online at cascadiadaily.com. 

Send Letters to the Editor to letters@cascadiadaily.com. Rules: Maximum 300 words, have a point and make it clearly, no personal attacks. Include your full name, address and telephone number(s) for verification; only your name and city of residence will be published. Letters may be edited for length, grammar and clarity.

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