Letters

Letters to the Editor, Week of Oct. 5, 2022

October 5, 2022 at 5:10 a.m.


Editor,

Perhaps we should not be surprised that another publicly owned forest in Whatcom County is now under threat of logging. This forest is called Box of Rain (FPA #2818745), and is located just where Clearwater Creek meets the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River. If nothing is done, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will auction off Box of Rain for clearcut-style logging within the next two months. 

In the wake of the devastating 2021 floods, many of us have come to better understand how tree removal increases flood risks. One recent University of British Columbia study found even a minor logging project can increase flood risks — that the removal of only 11% of a watershed’s trees doubled the frequency of floods of all sizes, and also increased the magnitude of such floods by 9% to 14%. This study also found that larger, denser tree harvests — like the kind planned for Box of Rain — could result in two, three and fourfold increases in the frequency of large floods, depending on where in the watershed the logging occurred. (This study can be read online here: tinyurl.com/FloodRiskAndLogging.)

While there are many reasons to oppose the Box of Rain timber sale, the likelihood of increasing flood risk along the Nooksack is perhaps the most urgent. There is no reason to let watershed buffer trees be felled along a river that is already flood-prone. Whatcom County needs all the flood protection we can get.

Please tell DNR to halt the Box of Rain timber sale. Here is a link with info on how to sign up to speak at their next meeting or send them a public comment: www.dnr.wa.gov/about/boards-and-councils/board-natural-resources.

These trees are publicly owned and would best serve the public by being kept in the ground. 

Hayley Steele

Bellingham


Editor,

As per my usual, this morning I checked headline stories in the New York Times. There was a lot of coverage of hurricane Ian’s destruction in Cuba and Florida, including an article about the impact of the storm on Florida’s wildlife. When I opened the front section of today’s Cascadia Daily there was a picture of an animal in what looked like some sort of cage. Reading the caption, I learned it was a 50-pound alligator. For a second I thought it was some kind of rescue effort from Florida. No, this gator was being stuffed into a smoker right here in Bellingham. The synchronicity was weird and the juxtaposition stark between the Times article and the Daily’s color photo. I, for one, can do without photographs of exotic animals being shoved into barbecues, wrapped in bacon or not. 

Jamie K. Donaldson

Fairhaven


Editor,

In recent years, Whatcom County elections have witnessed historic results. In 2019, Satpal Sidhu became the first person of color elected county executive. In 2021, Kristina Michele Martens and Edwin “Skip” Williams became the first Black elected officials in the history of the city’s legislative branch. In 2023 there are 115 local offices up for election across our county. Who will make history next?

In Washington state, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities make up more than 36% of our state’s population, yet only 19% of all our elected leaders are from these communities. BIPOC communities are underrepresented at every level of government in our state, from school boards to the Legislature. 

There’s a way to help. 

First Mile, launched in 2019, is a statewide donor circle that supports progressive candidates of color in down-ballot races across Washington state who are bold, transformational and accountable to the communities they represent. First Mile members, who are small-dollar individual donors such as myself, give directly to candidate campaigns. First Mile’s community partner recommendations serve as a BIPOC-led, community-informed process for determining which candidates to support. 

Since its founding in 2019, our cross-class, multi-racial donor circle has helped 43 transformational community leaders step into public office. BIPOC candidates face numerous barriers when running for office. Many First Mile-supported candidates have told us that the contributions brought them the boost of confidence they needed to carry on in the face of intimidating opposition.

I joined First Mile when a friend invited me to learn more about the initiative to help elect progressive candidates of color in our state. I invite my Whatcom County neighbors to learn more and to join by visiting firstmilecircle.org.

Jonathan Scanlon

Bellingham


Editor,

Our conversations related to child care and early education suffer from a lack of imagination. What we've been doing since women entered the labor force in great numbers in the 1960s is not working.

We devalue our children's needs by insinuating their daily care collides with market work outside the home.

Pew Research found that 79% of Americans reject that women should return to what has been viewed as their traditional role. Yet, when asked what is best for young children, only 16% of adults said having a mother who works full time is “the ideal situation.” Among full-time working moms, only 22% said that a full-time working mom is ideal.

Pew Research also found that among millennials, a majority of men would be willing to be stay-at-home dads if the societal stigma associated with that choice was mitigated.

I had a conversation about child care needs with Lady Bird Johnson in the mid-1980s. She said a paradigm shift was warranted — why weren't parents challenging assumptions that their opportunities would suffer if they interrupted participation in the workforce at least until their child started school?

Lady Bird said we needed to design workplace systems that fully engage families in their children's care. While admitting it would take time to accomplish, she maintained it was possible to create such conditions. If we indisputably value the well-being of our children, our culture wouldn't consider time out for caregiving as a black hole on a résumé or a detriment to the economy. 

By failing to honestly address our social weaknesses, our country accumulates more of them. Our nation's children are our greatest asset — our precious treasure. We must ensure that as working parents juggle their many responsibilities, we support them with workplace policies that let them stay home, or at least work part-time, in their child's formative years with no harm to their future success in the workforce. 

That concept is absent in the Proposition 5 conversation.

Micki Jackson

Bellingham


Editor,

In the 42nd Senate race, one candidate’s primary claim to represent us is that she is an economics professor.

One of the key tenets of economic science is the “law of supply and demand.” One would assume an economics professor would be well versed in this theory. So, let's explore that with respect to electricity.

One of our primary costs as citizens in this area is electricity. Puget Power just announced a significant increase in the cost we all must pay. We have no choice; we just must do it.

Within the law of supply and demand, it is fact that when demand goes up, cost goes up. 

Our Democrat leaders are requiring us to start using electric furnaces, electric stoves, electric lawn mowers, electric leaf blowers and soon electric buses and cars. There isn’t enough electricity to drive all of this. These policies are going to dramatically ramp up demand for electricity, and by the law of supply and demand, this will dramatically increase the costs we have to pay for this necessary utility well beyond the 20% increase we see annually now.

The law of supply and demand also states that when supply goes down, costs go up.

At the same time, we are facing increasing demand. They have shut down coal electrical production, they are in the process of shutting down natural gas plants, nuclear is out and they want to blow the Snake River hydroelectric dams. They are significantly reducing supply. The law of supply and demand also means this will drive costs through the roof.

So both of the laws of supply and demand are going to trigger ridiculous increases in the cost of the one thing that we can’t do without. 

The economics professor either doesn’t understand the laws of supply and demand, which probably isn’t the case; or she just doesn’t care and expects us to pay more and more for electricity every year. At some point, this becomes unsustainable, and that point is coming closer and closer every year. 

We need representatives that will help us retain the ability to afford to live in this state. The economic professor isn’t thinking about our economics. 

Please consider voting for Simon Sefzik; he is working to restrain these assaults on our way of life and the costs we will all have to pay if they have their way. 

Terry McNabb

Bellingham


Editor,

Do you expect your elected representatives to be knowledgeable, experienced, effective, trustworthy? I know I do. I also expect it of candidates for public office.

A recent City Club forum for the 42nd District featured state Senate candidates Sharon Shewmake (currently our state representative) and Simon Sefzik (appointed earlier this year by the Whatcom County Council to complete the term of late state Sen. Doug Ericksen).

What a contrast. As an interim candidate before the County Council, Sefzik had appeared moderate, reasonable and well-mannered. As a general election candidate, he was in attack mode from the outset — yet mysteriously evasive when asked his position on protecting women's reproductive rights.

Shewmake, on the other hand, was straightforward, composed, impressively in command of and focused on local and state issues, clearly committed to public service and her constituents. When she tells us she will protect our civil and reproductive rights, we can believe her.

Fact-checking of that forum by The Salish Current showed Shewmake to be truthful, and Sefzik to shade the truth as often as not.

During four years in the state House, Shewmake has delivered for us big time: lowering taxes on home sales for most homes, funding flood recovery and local schools, helping eliminate the B&O tax for small businesses, passing the Working Families Tax Rebate and supporting a capital gains tax on the super-wealthy that goes to schools.

We already know and trust Shewmake. Now we need her in the Washington state Senate!

Myra Ramos

Lummi Island


Editor,

The KGMI candidate debate on Sept. 27 made clear to me that Sharon Shewmake is by far the best person to serve the 42nd District in the Washington state Senate.    

I found Sharon’s performance in the debate straightforward, knowledgeable and courteous. For example, I was impressed by her clear explanation of the factors driving inflation in Washington state, and which of those can be effectively addressed by the state Senate. This indicates to me that Sharon has the analytical capability to grasp complex issues and the political experience to focus on what can be realistically achieved by the organization in which she serves. 

In contrast, I found Simon Sefzik’s debate performance to be light in content and arrogant in tone. He talked in generalities about his own ideas and used most of his time during the debate to attack Sharon’s record in the state Assembly. Throughout the debate, Simon’s consistent reference to Sharon as “Sharon Shewmake” instead of speaking to her directly by saying “you” or “your” sounded petty and condescending. It made it apparent to me that Simon does not have the temperament of a team player, whether that team is as simple as two people presenting a debate on KGMI, or the many teams that he would be called on to serve on as a state senator. 

We need a senator in Olympia who has a clear, in-depth understanding of issues facing Whatcom County, and the ability to work effectively with constituents here in the county and colleagues in Olympia to move us all ahead. 

Cascadia Daily readers, please vote for Sharon Shewmake for Washington state Senate. 

Myra Harmer

Bellingham


Editor,

If our next State Senator doesn't vote on the budget, we cannot get what we need in Whatcom County.

I’m tired of politicians playing games, saying they support something like flood funding, then voting against it. The only way to get things we need — roads, bridges, funding for mental health centers or flood recovery — is to work with others on the budget. If our next senator votes no — like Sefzik did — the people of Whatcom County lose out. Flood recovery isn’t a game or a political talking point. We need state funds. Only Sharon Shewmake will be able to deliver.

Nathan Winney

Bellingham


Editor,

Kudos to Cassidy Hettesheimer and Cascadia Daily News. The article “Title IX at 50” is a wonderful example of newspaper reporting at its best. The piece covers an interesting and important topic. It provides ample context, depth, data and pictures. I came away from the article with a much better understanding of how this federal legislation helps women participate in a variety of sports. I hope CDN will publish more such articles on critical local issues, such as climate change, homelessness, rising house prices, population growth, development of the waterfront GP site and hunger, to name a few.

Eric Hirst

Bellingham


Editor,

It wasn't until Russian men began being drafted to fight an apparently losing, violent invasion that these major protests fired up. Very few Russians, likely humane progressives, protested when it was just Ukrainian lives being threatened or obliterated. 

The Only If It’s In My Own Back Yard (OIIIMOBY) mindset basically follows: “Why should I care about other people’s troubles and turmoil — my family and I are alright.” 

While some people will justify it as a normal thus moral human evolutionary function, the self-serving OIIIMOBY mentality can and does debilitate progress, even when it is most needed. And it seems this distinct form of societal penny wisdom but pound foolishness is a very unfortunate human characteristic that’s likely with us to stay. 

Frank Sterle Jr,

White Rock, B.C.


Editor,

As reported in CDN a few weeks ago, Bellingham abandoned its pursuit of anaerobic digestion (Sept. 27) as an option for treating the biosludge.

In the City Council's announcement to cancel the project, one of the council members made an important statement that is patently false.

Quoting CDN: “Lilliquist said his third motion was a direct response to letters calling for the change, but indicated that thermal treatment technologies were still emerging tech, not proven.”

For the record, easily verified, Fluidized Bed Incineration (FBI), pyrolysis and gasification have been shown over many years to be proven, robust, waste treatment technologies. These technologies treat wastes of all characteristics, including biosludge.

There are many licensors available, and the treatment systems are proprietary. Therefore, one needs to go to individual licensors for treatability and cost information.

To size the equipment, testing is routinely done on the waste stream to be treated. The typical work process for preliminary design is that the owner provides drums of the waste material to be tested. The licensor then uses its own pilot plant to do performance evaluation. 

The results will include full analytical data, and the licensor could provide a process flow scheme, preliminary sized equipment, utilities requirements and a screening-level capital cost estimate. This work is usually done for a nominal charge.

All three technologies should be considered and evaluated. However, experience has shown that pyrolysis and gasification will be more costly than FBI treatment. This is due to the relative complexity of the respective process and the generation of byproduct waste streams, which need to be accommodated. 

Pyrolysis will produce an off-gas, ash and a “pyrolysis oil.” Gasification generates a low BTU producer gas and a fine ash that may not be suitable for crops.

Right now, the same people leading the charge for Post Point 2.0 are the same ones who brought us the billion-dollar Post Point Project 1.0.

Thus, based on past performance, it is recommended that for future efforts, the city consider hiring a qualified engineering and construction firm familiar with process selection to provide guidance. This will ensure that the final biosolids treatment process is fit for purpose and cost-focused.

Bob Morton

Bellingham


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