Letters

Letters to the Editor, Week of July 27, 2022

July 27, 2022 at 5:10 a.m.


Editor,

The Hammer recently commented about roadway speeding — it got us thinking about the importance of the emerging U.S. model for making our streets safer.  

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg articulated a first-ever national strategy for streets — the Safe Systems approach. It is directly related to occupational safety protocols for prevention and harm reduction. The National Transportation Safety Board has called for this strategy to lift us from the abysmal ranking of 41st in traffic fatality rates among 49 high-income nations. 

At least three Bellingham neighborhood groups are working on safety concerns related to driving speeds. And, hundreds of neighbors reported additional locations for the Bellingham Pedestrian Plan update, with concerns for all ages and abilities to use the crossings or the sidewalks. 

Why? They know the odds.

You and your loved ones have only a 50/50 chance to survive a crash if the car driver is operating at 30 mph. More speed than that and your survival odds drop sharply. 

Our homes are designed (or retrofitted) for safety. So, too, can our vehicles and streets. The proactive Safe Systems approach looks at the ecosystem of traffic safety. Curb signs asking motorists to “drive like your children live here,” are a good indicator of the need. 

Now that national leaders are embracing the Safe Systems approach, we have policy and financial support for the work already begun at the city and state levels. Follow the Engage Bellingham site and Transportation Commission meetings in the coming months as the Pedestrian Plan is updated. And, look for City Council discussion of new safe street actions. 

We can design and operate our streets and vehicles so people stay healthy and alive. Check out the Safe Systems resources available at the USDOT, America Walks and Vision Zero Network. Envision how you would experience a safe street.

Therese Kelliher, Brian Estes

Bellingham


Editor, 

I am deeply distressed by the Port Commissioners' consensus that they would “probably like a hotel there” where the Boardmill building (CDN, July 20, 2022) is located. I find that vision to be totally short-sighted and out of step with both Gov. Inslee's climate focus and Bellingham's community needs.

Gov. Inslee has directed that our state work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pursue aggressive policies to combat climate change. Three of the four development proposals — a hotel, a convention center and a soccer stadium, along with more retail and apartments — would bring many visitors and new residents to the area, which means more services, cars, emissions and greenhouse gases. One of these proposals brings in elite, upscale lodging, which may encourage private aircraft, with their fuel requirements and emissions issues. These projects encourage tourism, travel and new residents as well as low- to mid-range jobs in the hotel and service industries. 

Instead, I propose we use this beautiful space to serve the needs of our existing community. We don't need growth and tourism, we need good-paying jobs and multi-generational use facilities. On May 18, 2022, it was reported that Washington is seeking $1 billion to $2 billion from the federal government to become one of four to eight regional hubs for the production and distribution of hydrogen as fuel. Already we are attracting some hydrogen projects here. Why don't we build on that? Bring new climate-related industry and projects to our area, which fit well with our environmental focus, Gov. Inslee's focus and our need for good-paying jobs. Combine this with the fourth proposal, the YMCA idea for expanded sports activities, and expand that concept even further to include an attractive gathering spot for our seniors.

We can do so much better than three of our four Boardmill proposals. Please, Port Commissioners, don't encourage tourism when you can do so much better for our current community. If you build a bigger vision and look in that direction, it will come.

Marcia Corey 

Fairhaven


Editor,

The Bellingham Planning Commission and City Council have agreed to allow the deployment of 5G cell towers and antennae throughout Whatcom County. The wireless companies are in a rush to dot our landscape with these before the average citizen knows what it means. 

5G wireless signals are higher frequency and travel shorter distances so they need to be transmitted through large numbers of small cell stations located every 500 feet and will be placed on nearly every light and utility pole, even on home roofs, all without your permission. In addition, a large cell tower will need to be installed to support these small cells and will need to be placed anywhere from 1,500 square feet apart to one-half mile. Not a very pretty sight if you care anything about the landscape or your property values, not to mention the radiation exposure. 

The powerful wireless industry has a vested interest in convincing the public that radio-frequency electromagnetic field exposure which we cannot see, taste or touch is harmless, but that is not true. There is evidence that there are harmful cumulative effects of this type of radiation that affect a wide range of living organisms including our wildlife and trees. Two types of brain cancer have been documented in rats and mice exposed to this type of radiation. A hypersensitivity reaction described as brain abnormalities consisting of cognitive impairment and other mental effects has also been well described. Children are particularly vulnerable to this type of cumulative radiation exposure. 

Like the tobacco industry, the wireless industry absolutely knows about the harmful effects. There are better options to improve our wireless connectivity available now such as fiberoptic technology which carries energy through light buried underground. We all need to become better informed before it is too late. 

Carolyn Taylor, M.D.

Bellingham


Editor,

I read the Developers' Plans for the Boardmill renovation. Reading the overview, as expected, the developers positioned their proposals to address the Port’s “innovative” scope in their Request for Proposal (RFP). Fair enough.

And what a novel RFP it was: convention center, business and residential. 

Yup, as exciting and novel as a 1930s three-piece wool suit in a black-and-white movie.

However, one really can’t knock the Port for not being creative. They are busy, excellently executing important Port stuff, whatever important Port stuff is.

Convention Center. You guys just won’t let that lump of an idea die, will you? We have existing convention style venues in town that can handle at least a thousand people. 

More unaffordable affordable housing. Check.

A 10,000-person soccer field? Nope. 

Sorry, the “Build it and they will come” concept only works in the movies. Pele isn’t gonna come running out of the toxic dirt pile south of the property to greet the kiddies. 

A hotel named the “Titanic” … Seriously?

But! There really was one nugget included in the group of Proposed Concepts that was on the mark. 

Redevelop the Boardmill into an aquatic center. Yes! 

The aquatic center would be in constant use. It satisfies a real community need, a new YMCA. It’s a good fit for the new residential community and surrounding area that the Port aspires to create.

It’s “right size” for the property and not an impractical pie-in-the-sky pipe dream. It’s an out-of-the-box creative suggestion which hits the spot on so many levels. 

I sincerely hope that the Port will give this solution some really serious consideration.

Bob Morton

Bellingham


Editor,

The entire former Georgia-Pacific site is situated on what used to be part of Bellingham Bay.

From the web: “Liquefaction is a phenomenon where saturated sand and silt take on the characteristics of a liquid during the intense shaking of an earthquake. The highest hazard areas are concentrated in regions of man-made landfill, especially fill that was placed many decades ago in areas that were once submerged bay floor.”

Considering the major damage to buildings in the San Francisco Marina District, built on bay fill, from the Loma Prieta earthquake, one must wonder about the potential consequences for the site of the old G-P Boardmill building during the next Cascadia megaquake: think shaking Jell-O and sinking quicksand, followed shortly by tsunami waves.

Perhaps the proposed “Titanic” moniker isn't the best brand name for new waterfront lodgings?

Forest Cat 

Sudden Valley 


Editor,

Normally, I try to remain open minded as to who I will vote for. I don't vote a straight-party ticket. I'm fiscally conservative and somewhat socially (somewhat) liberal. I have to say, I've sent multiple emails and called the office of Simon Sefzik who is running for State Senate as a Republican and he has never responded to me.  

For somebody who is currently my state senator and running to get re-elected, he sure doesn't seem to want the job. My inquiries are completely about the topics about which he sits on committees to represent us: education, health care and housing/local government. I noticed he's got a lot of signs up everywhere and campaign literature from him keeps flooding my mailbox. 

I sent my same concerns to his opponent, Sharon Shewmake, the Democrat. Every single time, she has personally responded, whether she agreed with me or not. I respect that. I don't respect a politician who won't even bother to give me the time of day. It's for that reason I will not be voting for Simon Sefzik and will be voting for Sharon Shewmake.

Anthony Vicari

Lynden


Editor,

Rep. Alex Ramel is an excellent partner with the local government, he stays in communication with local elected officials regarding state-level decisions during the legislative session and is always willing to take our perspectives back to the decision-making table in Olympia.

He has been a leader in protecting our environment for years, and now as a state representative, Alex has been a key contributor in developing our State Energy Strategy as we make progress on dealing with our urgent climate crisis. At the local level, the policies put in place will lower pollution and costs for working families, while also providing good prevailing wage jobs in the renewable energy sector.

We also know that housing costs are a major reason for the rising cost of living. Alex has worked especially hard to increase the construction of multifamily housing, missing middle housing and to support organizations that increase homeownership like community land trusts. 

Alex has the sole endorsement from a range of local and state organizations including the IAFF Bellingham/Whatcom Co. Fire Fighters Local 106, Washington Education Association, the WA State Nurses Association, Washington Conservation Voters and the Teamsters Joint Local 28.

I look forward to continuing to work with Alex as a member of the Legislature. Join me in supporting Alex Ramel for re-election. 

Barry Buchanan

Bellingham


Editor,

My least favorite thing about elections are the negative ads and mailers. It’s hard to know what’s true and what’s not. I got one last week about Sharon Shewmake that sounded off and so I looked up all the bills they referenced. As best as I can tell, the bill she voted for, SB 5998 lowers taxes on most people. 

Yes, Sharon voted to lower taxes. If you sell your home, odds are you will now pay less thanks to Sharon. If your house is really expensive (over $1.5-million) you’ll pay slightly more in taxes. That’s the truth. You can look it up yourself.

My point is, don’t believe what you read. If it’s paid for by corporate PACs, double check. They aren’t honest. They don’t want honest politicians to win. 

MacKenna Kelly

Arlington


Editor, 

I would like to encourage your readers to support Ben Elenbaas for state Senate. Ben is an experienced candidate who has already served well as chair of the Charter Review, and as a County Council member. A free thinker, he's acceptable to most political factions, taking a whopping 59% in his last election. From a family here before Washington was a state, Ben daily produces food for us all, along with fuel for our travel. Working on the farm with his children, they represent the fifth and sixth generation to maintain and protect Whatcom's farmland.

Having demonstrated he can serve well and succeed in real-life experience, why would he not be our choice for the highest legislative office in this County? Unlike his opposition, his funding source is some 90% local individuals. Please give Ben the nod for Senate. 

In the state representative slots, I'm also inclined to support locally grown, individuals who have spent their careers serving and protecting what we value.   

Tawsha, Dan and Ben need to go to Olympia. 

Joe Elenbaas

Bellingham


Editor,

A vote for Ben Elenbaas for the state Senate means you are paying attention.

The community is being held hostage by rising crime (from 2019 to 2021 — aggravated assault up 38.9%, robbery up 67.9%, vehicle theft up 59%), policies that make it impossible to staff corrections and law enforcement jobs and lack of space at the Whatcom County Jail allowing recidivism to go unchecked.

The ongoing battle on the Cherry Point Industrial Area threatens far more than the 3,220 jobs there. When my family member was offered refinery employment, we celebrated like winning the lottery. Where else locally can someone earn an average wage of over $110,000? However, misguided governmental actions have the potential to drive out jobs and harm the less fortunate among us most with astronomical energy prices.

We need a senator who will stand up for the people, who is willing to get rid of the politics and actually solve issues. 

Ben Elenbaas knows the importance of a safe Whatcom County for the public at large, for employment and tax revenue opportunities like the Cherry Point Industrial Area, and for preventing/responding to a crisis like the Nooksack River flooding. His educational background (bachelor's degree in natural sciences and minor in environmental studies) brings understanding of how to protect the environment while providing jobs and safe homes. 

Ben's unique life experience of farming the land, employment as a refinery operations foreman, and elected County Council service offers well-rounded knowledge and understanding of the people and the needs of the 42nd District.

 As a mother and small business owner with a love of Whatcom County land and the community who lives on it, I urge you to vote by Aug. 2 for Ben Elenbaas for the state Senate, 42nd District.

Nicole Gitts Spaur

Bellingham


Editor,

When a newcomer runs for office, I watch how they campaign, and that shows me their work ethic, effectiveness, how well they plan and anticipate possible curve balls. A tone-deaf, inept campaigner might be a tone-deaf inept elected official. I don't know if Kyle Christensen will win his primary, but last year he was a team player enough to withdraw from the County Council election because another candidate (Kamal Bachu) was going to have a big campaign. He started this year's campaign early and even though he is being outspent, his message is good, and his campaign has been functional from day one. Similarly, Blaine City Councilman Richard May won the last two times he was on the November ballot, and started early this year knocking on doors, attending community events and doing outreach.

But this guy Joe Timmons who works for the governor, where has he been before this year? Swing voters are frustrated with current federal and state government. Whatcom residents are proud, independent voters. They don't want another top-down insider politician, especially someone who showed up late to the race. Joe Timmon's kickoff was only a few weeks before ballots came out, and he finally got some big signs up when people were already voting. His mailer has a big photo of him and the governor. Might as well have had a photo of him and Nancy Pelosi. Being a teacher's pet might be great in grade school but for an elected official? We deserve better. 

Tom Machin

Custer


Editor,

I am honored to enthusiastically support the exceptionally well-qualified candidate, Jonathan Rands, for the Whatcom County District Court Bench. I practiced law in Whatcom County for nearly 40 years, 18-plus years in private practice and 20 years with the County Prosecutor’s Office. For years, I worked professionally with all three judicial candidates. Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Nelson are both very fine individuals and are excellent attorneys, but my vote is going to Jonathan.

I first met Jonathan in 2005 when he arrived in Bellingham as a practicing defense attorney. I carried a caseload at that time for the prosecutor’s office and negotiated countless criminal cases with Jonathan. I discovered early on that he is a person of professional integrity who is motivated by intellectual fairness and justice. 

Exceptional judicial officers possess many essential qualities, perhaps none more important than a commitment to impartiality. It is a difficult task to set aside one’s own point of view and carry out the law in a fair and impartial manner. Jonathan is an exceedingly sharp guy who takes a methodical and professional approach to resolving case-related issues. He is a pleasant and patient person who will have a judicial temperament such that he will understand the effects of his judicial decisions on the individuals appearing before the court. He is tactful, firm, compassionate and doesn’t lack for common sense. 

Jonathan is a long-time litigator who understands the evidence rules and the critically important role they play in judicial outcomes. His dedication to the legal process will lead him to carefully review submitted materials and attentively listen to oral remarks in each and every case, ensuring that all parties, regardless of the outcome, are heard and treated with respect. 

It is not always the case that attorneys, such as Jonathan, with successful and long-running careers will seek judicial office. This election offers the County an opportunity to fill this position with a candidate who will serve the residents of Whatcom County with integrity, intelligence and justice. 

Warren J. Page

Bellingham


Due to a high volume of letters, CDN now posts 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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