Letters to the Editor, Week of Aug. 23, 2023

A Tank, a jail, free press and forests
August 23, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.
Updated August 24, 2023 at 9:48 a.m.


Bellingham feels unsafe. We need Chief Donnell “Tank” Tanksley who has education in modern criminal justice and extensive experience needed to manage the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. 

Tanksley graduated from civil and military colleges in criminal justice and has a master's degree in management. He spent 22 years in the military, and 19 of those years were managing personnel. He is a retired Air Force First Sergeant and also served in the U.S. Navy on active duty. 

He has 30 years of diverse law enforcement experience, with over two decades of experience in policing as a police officer, sergeant, police lieutenant and detective lieutenant in St Louis. He then was assistant chief of police/assistant director of public safety at WWU here in Bellingham. He spent just under two years as chief of police at Portland State University, and since June 2019 he has been chief of police in Blaine.

We need to have policies to prevent the current cycle of endless revolving-door incarcerations. Tanksley can do this.

Tanksley’s opponent Doug Chadwick’s website has zero mention of increasing support systems, and instead focuses vaguely on stopping the flow of drugs and reducing crime — the old failed "War on Drugs." The current sheriff’s department has ignored the findings of the Vera Task Force. They have not reduced incarceration. The racial imbalance has worsened. We need a sheriff who will maintain a new jail, not cause a new jail to rot due to poor maintenance.

Andi Douglass



As someone who has closely followed the work that led up to placing another jail initiative on the ballot, I would like to address two recent letters questioning the need and approaches. A tremendous amount of work by many people over the past year helped create this initiative, which deserves consideration for this fact alone. 

Unlike the two previous measures which failed, this one includes significant oversight and dedicated behavioral health facilities and services as part of the package. And yes, the current jail is in dire shape. 

We are in a crisis in this county. This initiative has attempted to direct money to specific programs and facilities to help address some of these needs. Your job is to vote based on whether you think this important work needs to start as soon as possible or can wait. Please vote.  

Lola Hudson



Guest essayist Dianne Foster wrote "... at a recent dinner with a friend who was a palliative care doctor, she said she has no resentment about being laid off, as she understands they don’t have the money to continue ..." (CDN, Aug. 18, 2023).

I can't fact-check Foster's claim relating to an unidentified palliative care physician, but PeaceHealth continues to raise executive compensation at the same time it cries outpatient palliative care is not sustainable because of cost. 

The most recent IRS-mandated 990 financial forms, ending June 30, 2022, are now publicly available. Liz Dunne, system-wide PeaceHealth CEO, had compensation of $5,635,752 for the period, plus other compensation of $574,482.  Darrin Montalvo, chief financial growth officer, had compensation of $1,771,176. plus other compensation of $237,382.

In a [Catholic Health Association] article, Montalvo says he’s fully supportive of palliative care. What made him change his mind? 

There has been ongoing frustration focused on PeaceHealth's imbroglio of its own making. We deserve an open forum in which PeaceHealth faces the community: Why did you renege on your promise to donors and shut down palliative care services? Why isn't Whatcom County represented on the Governing Board? How can you say palliative care is not sustainable when your executives continue to get outrageous pay increases? When are we going to see transparency from PeaceHealth management in Vancouver? When will policy decisions return to Whatcom County? 

It's time.

Sue Ming



In reference to Ron Judd's column about the police raids on a Kansas newspaper and the importance of a local press:

When citizen journalist Sandra Robson exposed the organized racism behind the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) coal export facility at Cherry Point, she and her publisher Whatcom Watch were threatened with a SLAPP [strategic lawsuit against public participation] suit by GPT spokesman, Craig Cole. 

Writing at Northwest Citizen, editor John Servais observed that it is legitimate for Whatcom Watch to seek connections between the anti-Indian groups and the corporations, noting “It is called journalism and the exercise of a free press.”

In 2016, Northwest Citizen named Sandra Robson the Paul de Armond Citizen Journalist of the Year, saying “If there were a Pulitzer Prize for citizen journalism, Sandra Robson would win it.”

Jay Taber



Julia Lerner, in her nice article about "The Ghost Forest," (CDN, Aug. 14, 2023) tells us that "... last summer, for the first time in our recorded history, the Evergreen State was less than 50% forest."

If that's true, then the DNR should stop exploiting our venerable forests for income and get that money by taxing the increasing sales that are coming from the growing population that is causing the decrease in forest. (The state should actually establish an income tax or capital gains tax, but many high-income residents manage to kill that proposal every time it is raised.)

John Holstein


Editor's note: The state of Washington established a 7% capital gains tax in 2021, effective in January 2022. Opponents continue to challenge it as being in violation of the state Constitution.

Letters to the Editor are published online Wednesdays and a selection is published in print Fridays. Send Letters to the Editor to letters@cascadiadaily.com, due Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Rules: Maximum 250 words, have a point and make it clearly. CDN reserves the right to edit letters for length, clarity, grammar and style, and personal attacks or offensive content. Letters should be submitted with an address/phone number to verify the writer's identity (not for publication).

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