Letters to the Editor, Week of June 15, 2022
June 15, 2022 at 5:55 a.m.
I would like to talk about sensible gun laws. Matthew McConaughey addressed this very issue to our federal lawmakers asking them to honor their moral obligations instead of party affiliations. We all want gun laws that make sense and will make it very difficult for sick people to obtain military-style assault weapons.
The current laws are putting responsible gun owners in a very very bad light.
This is not about 2nd Amendment.
This is not about taking guns away from people.
This is not about asking people not to have safety measures for themselves or their families.
Congress must appreciate the difference between “gun control” and “gun responsibility” in the wake of the gruesome mass shootings over the past two decades.
I, as an elected official, have taken an oath to defend the United States Constitution. The 2nd Amendment is part of the U.S. Constitution, and I respect that.
We all know that overwhelming majorities of all citizens (Republicans, Independents or Democrats — 89%) support sensible gun control laws to severely restrict mentally ill people to buy or obtain guns by any means.
And I feel that myself and the council members as elected officials have an obligation to speak up for the safety of our children and against senseless violence in our society. This is not freedom we love; this is anarchy.
I don’t think our Founding Fathers had such a scenario in their mind while stating simple terms of “right to bear arms” and “well-regulated militia.”
We must hold every citizen to display and uphold the underlying responsibilities of owning a gun. And such intent must be honored today by all lawmakers at local, state and federal levels to enact sensible gun control laws.
I intend to bring a resolution to this effect in front of council in coming weeks.
Satpal S. Sidhu
Whatcom County Executive
Re: The naming of the new I-5 bridge from Ferndale.
Nothing propels the perpetually angry, beard and Birkenstock crowd out of their Prius’ and old smoky Volvos to the keyboard quicker than the simple public mention of the late Sen. Doug Ericksen.
True to form, the usual suspects have found yet another cause to take up, posting angry letters protesting the possibility of a bridge being named in the man’s honor. So much injustice to fight, so little time.
I’d say, let the man have his bridge.
The naming should be done, if for no other reason than just to annoy the driver of that smoky Volvo, plastered with “Save the Planet” and “Coexist” stickers every time they enter I-5.
There are other more important things that should be on the protest agenda first.
Like whether or not the name on an old bridge in Bellingham, named after a long-forgotten Civil War soldier, should be removed.
So, the Ferndale City Council might name the new Thornton Street overpass after the late Doug Ericksen? I’m very sorry for his family, but he tainted his own legacy in so many ways I just cannot stomach the idea of naming the bridge after him. Have we already forgotten the role he played in undermining democracy by pushing the Big Lie?
He repeatedly parroted the same disinformation about imaginary voter fraud that led to a violent insurrection.
Have we already forgotten his years of climate denialism, blocking key legislation to shrink our carbon footprint and save a livable planet? Don’t forget he tried to moonlight as Trump’s EPA communications director (while also representing us in the 42nd) until he got in trouble for scrubbing climate change information from EPA’s website.
That wouldn’t be the last time he served two masters, or maybe we’ve forgotten that Ericksen then worked as a well-paid advisor to the brutal dictator of Cambodia? Well, the Ferndale City Council may have forgotten, but this Ferndale homeowner has not.
There are many reasons to be skeptical and apprehensive regarding the proposed 300-400 bed, five-story Lighthouse Mission (LM) shelter, including financial concerns. It is important to FOLLOW THE MONEY.
Who exactly is paying for the estimated $23 million cost of the proposed building (as well as the cost of current LM services)? How much profit will the developer of the new building make from nonprofit LM funding?
According to LM’s financial statements available on their website (years 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020) the “faith-based” organization pays only payroll taxes. Because of their nonprofit status (operating as a church) they are not required to pay other taxes (e.g., property or federal taxes). However, the LM and the individuals they house utilize public services nonetheless.
LM’s 2020 financial statement reports an income of $426,597 in “rent receivable” that year. Are they charging their “guests” rent to stay at a shelter that receives tax breaks and public donations?
How much are the administrative staff members' individual annual salaries? According to LM’s 2020 financial statement a total of $1,638,821 was paid to staff salaries.
Rather than contributing to the growth of the “homeless industrial complex” in the United States, public financial resources would be better spent on building affordable, low-income housing and increasing funding for other basic support services.
“Not in Their Backyard – or anyone else’s” (CDN, June 1, 2022) was much-needed coverage of the large Mission Redevelopment project proposed for Bellingham’s Old Town. This is a momentous project that will be decided in coming days and about which few city residents are well-informed. The article provides sound, basic information and testimony from Lettered Streets residents; statements provided by Lighthouse Mission and Councilman Dan Hammill are misleading.
Repeated references to Mission “residents” by Hans Erchinger-Davis, LMM CEO, belies the actual population served by the low-barrier shelter. The hundreds of homeless people provided meals and basic services at the Mission are not required to reside there, nor sleep there, nor participate in restorative programs; and many don’t.
Hammill’s claim that the new shelter needs to be near support services downtown is a spent mantra that is penny-wise, pound-foolish and destroying West Coast cities from the inside out. While he claims “a straight, undeniable causal line between increased housing costs and homelessness,” he ignores the fact that low-barrier shelters are largely used by those made homeless from drug addiction, mental illness and criminal histories.
Finally, Hammill predicts the homeless problem will only get worse, thus justifying the size of the Mission project. He fails to note the Mission’s business model and implications for over-sizing it. Lighthouse Mission is listed on a national website for homeless shelters and provides services to homeless people regardless of their origins. As our city makes progress in housing local community members, the Mission can attract homeless people from distant locales to sustain its service.
If the COB approves the Lighthouse Mission Redevelopment in Old Town/Lettered Streets, it will likely destroy core Bellingham from the inside out. You need only look to downtown Seattle to see the tragic long-term results of concentrating low-barrier homeless shelters and related services in a city core.
COB can instead direct the low barrier shelter outside established residential and business neighborhoods. It’s the best and necessary option for Bellingham’s future.
As the GOP tries to shift attention to mental illness and away from gun safety, it is helpful and illustrative to remember the action they took on this issue in 2017.
One of the first pieces of legislation Trump signed into law was a bill to make it easier for people suffering from mental illness to buy a gun.
If Republicans are serious about bipartisan action on this plague of mass shootings, maybe undoing their last screwup would be a good place to start.