Letters

Letters to the Editor, Week of June 22, 2022

June 22, 2022 at 5:55 a.m.


Editor,

I support the expansion of the Lighthouse Mission building on Holly and F streets. While I am well aware of the concerns raised by those who live close to the Mission, I think those concerns are born more from NIMBY sentiments than by the risk of any increased open drug use or theft. Those are already issues in the Lettered Streets, and I doubt that expansion of the Mission building will significantly increase those problems.

However, as we probably would all agree, homelessness in our community is a significant and growing issue, one that in all probability will continue to increase. The city must support increasing the available beds for the homeless and prepare for future increases in that population. The Mission property has been in use for this purpose for many years and is well-positioned to continue in that role.

Most importantly, the Lighthouse Mission has an ongoing rehabilitation program that has an admirable record of helping people free themselves from their addictions and maintain a drug-free status. While the percentage of homeless who are able to successfully engage in their rehabilitation program may be relatively small, the effect is to reduce the number of homeless.

To my knowledge, there are no other proposals currently under consideration that provide shelter for an equivalent number of homeless and certainly none that combine low-barrier shelter with an ongoing rehabilitation program. The Lighthouse Mission fills an important need in our community and deserves everyone’s support.

John Dunne, MD

Bellingham


Editor,

Some of the video and other evidence proffered during the televised Jan. 6 congressional hearings on the attempted violent overthrow of the democracy produced some interesting, irrefutable revelations, and yes, some stubborn, inconvenient facts:

1. The “summer soldiers and the sunshine patriots,” essentially vigilante domestic violent extremists bent on the lynching of the vice president, were instigated, incited, enabled, aided and abetted by Pretend POTUS, the Don(ald).

2. The treasonous attempted coup was an inside job perpetrated and co-conspired by some elected Republican right-wing extremist members of Congress, whose considerable salaries, generous benefits and perks are paid for by ALL of the American taxpayers.

3. The promulgation of the canard  “The Big Lie” should not be considered a protected First Amendment right when it implicitly or otherwise advocates the violent overthrow of the government.

And, in no small by the way, any elected official, including the late Sen. Doug Ericksen, who stridently espoused “The Big Lie” should be held accountable and not rewarded, with any public memoriam, for their complicity in the tacit advocacy of the violation of the rule of law, and implicit violent overthrow of the government. Period.

Of the “peaceful flag-waving protesters,” not a one was spied wearing Birkenstocks. Bulletproof vests, mace, bear spray and baseball bats.

Michael Kominsky

Bellingham


Editor,

Thank you for the illuminating article by Ralph Schwartz on the continuing problems with the housing project at the “22 North” building. It is a good mini-preview of the larger-scale problems likely to occur if the city thrusts the new, larger Lighthouse Mission project onto an unwilling Lettered Streets neighborhood.

Basically, the city is in a self-inflicted crisis. The Mission’s presence at F and Holly streets has been used as a rationale to site a plethora of support services in the city downtown. And now, other housing projects for drug-involved people have been put into the downtown, because “that’s where the support services are.” So, we are in this doom loop: The Mission is downtown, so there must be services. Next: the services are downtown, so we must have more housing for drug-involved people downtown.

Problem is, the city also has aspired to be an attractive, safe and vital place for families to live in, for tourists to visit and for all of the county’s residents to enjoy. Remember that whole “urban village” thing?

The city is impaled on a contradiction here. You cannot have an attractive, safe and vital place for families to live in, for tourists to visit and for all of the county’s residents to enjoy, while at the same time peppering the place with facilities for the behaviorally disturbed and drug-addicted.

It’s long past time for the Council and the Mayor to confront this contradiction between two mutually contradictory goals. 

If you choose to have a nice, appealing city center, then you must move, to a distant site (e.g., Irongate), the residences and support services for the behaviorally disturbed and drug-involved folks. But if, on the other hand, you want to keep the city center as the nexus for support services, then you might as well give up on normal urban development. 

At present, the city is trying to do both, and increasingly resembles someone furiously digging holes in water. 

Abe Jacobson

Bellingham


Editor, 

Re: “Fear, anger surround 22 North,” June 15:

The preconceived erroneous notion that addicts are simply weak-willed and/or have committed a moral crime is, fortunately, gradually dying. 

Still, neglecting people dealing with a debilitating drug addiction should never have been an acceptable or preferable political option. But the callous politics typically involved with addiction funding/services likely reflect conservative electorate opposition, however irrational, toward making proper treatment available to low- and no-income addicts.

It's as though some people, however precious, can tragically be consciously or subconsciously considered disposable — especially by government bean-counters — because they are debilitated from drug addiction. Then those people may begin perceiving themselves as worthless and consume their addictive substances more haphazardly. 

I used to be one of those who, while sympathetic, would look down on those who’d “allowed” themselves to become addicted to alcohol and illicit drugs. Yet, though I have not been personally affected by the opioid addiction/overdose crisis, I myself have suffered enough unrelenting ACE-related hyper-anxiety to have known, enjoyed and appreciated the great release upon consuming alcohol and/or THC.

Often societally overlooked is that intense addiction usually does not originate from a bout of boredom, where a person repeatedly consumed recreationally but became heavily hooked — and homeless, soon after — on an unregulated often-deadly chemical that eventually destroyed their life and even those of loved ones. 

Emotional/psychological trauma from unhindered toxic abuse, for example, usually results in a helpless child's brain improperly developing. If allowed to continue for a prolonged period, it can act as a starting point into a life in which the brain uncontrollably releases potentially damaging levels of inflammation-promoting stress hormones and chemicals, even in non-stressful daily routines. The lasting mental pain is very formidable and can make every day a mental ordeal, unless the turmoil is treated with some form of medicating, either prescribed or illicit.

Frank Sterle Jr.   

White Rock, B.C.


Editor,

I remember the “good ol' days” of Bellingham parking meters that gave you 20 minutes for a nickel; that seemed reasonable enough.

Then Bellingham came up with a neat, new, high-tech trick to charge for the same time, in the same space, two or three times; pretty slick, huh? 

Used to be if someone else had paid for time at a parking space, but had left early, another driver could park in that space and use the remaining time that was pre-paid; just look at the meter, and use the rest of the time that someone else had already paid for.

Now, parking spaces only have numbers, not meters, and drivers unknowingly pay again for time in a space that another driver already paid for. Pretty neat trick for boosting parking revenue!

P.S.: I haven't paid for five years since Bellingham replaced "meter maids" with credit card pay stations, and I've never been ticketed.

Forest Cat 

Sudden Valley


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