Letters to the Editor, Week of July 26, 2023

Taxes, rusty relics, candidates and PeaceHealth
July 26, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.
Updated July 28, 2023 at 1:06 p.m.


The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide service will be back in full swing in February providing free income tax preparation to Whatcom County citizens. Although the program focuses on low-income and senior citizen taxpayers, it is available to most people who need help with their taxes. After three difficult years dealing with the pandemic, they have lost 30% of their volunteer tax preparers and are looking for new volunteers to provide this valuable service.

Prospective volunteers do not need any tax background as a comprehensive self-directed training program is provided. The program looks for motivated, friendly people with basic computer skills and a love of working with people and numbers. Most volunteers will work two, four-hour shifts per week between early February and April 15. Persons interested in this highly rewarding endeavor can learn more and apply to be a volunteer by visiting aarp.org/volunteer and filling out an application.

Carlton J. Nathon

Local Coordinator, AARP Foundation Tax Aide, Whatcom County


Industrial "icons" of a previous era, such as the Acid Ball, the Big Red Wheel and the Row of Rusty Rockets (adjacent to the tarnished Acid Ball) can serve as links to a heritage not always fondly recalled. Yes, the Georgia Pacific tissue mill was ugly. It belched into the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods the stench of airborne sulfurous effluents. The complex itself reeked of chlorine. The nearby railroad freight yard (now mostly empty) along Roeder Avenue was cluttered with un-iconic black tank cars. 

But the waterfront eyesore did provide jobs on which one could raise a family, and made a universally used product. Which, three years ago, shoppers — for yet unknown reasons — were hoarding. And not too many years before that, a less-than-iconic waterfront warehouse was packed with acres of the product, ready to fill the grocery-store shelves of a consuming nation. 

And now, as we inhabit a post-industrial paradise, we can enjoy it to its fullest while strolling the sulfur- and chlorine-free environs of Holly Street and Railroad Avenue. Which appear to have other problems, once unforeseen. Perhaps a waterfront walk with reminders of an earlier age isn't a totally laughable idea. 

Paul Kenna



We chose Bellingham as our community back in 1981 … it is the place where we raised our children, pursued our careers and now enjoy watching our grandchildren participate in all it has to offer.

It’s a place and a town we dearly love. So we were thrilled when we heard that Kim Lund had chosen to run for the position of Bellingham mayor.

We got to know Lund when she served our community as executive director of the Bellingham Schools Foundation. Her leadership took that organization to an amazing level of success with a permanently endowed following that will keep it vibrant and working for the good of our young people, their families and their academic success well into the future.

Lund is bright and dedicated, with listening and communication skills that are almost unparalleled. She is a thinker and a problem solver who examines challenges with care … collecting data, analyzing and surrounding herself with competent leaders. Then she makes decisions based carefully on the research and data she compiled.

Bellingham faces complex challenges. Lund has the ideas and the passion to tackle those. (Check out her website electkimlund.com for further details). In the run-up to this primary, she has met with almost all downtown businesses, done ride-alongs with our first responders and immersed herself in the issues we are facing. She is well-prepared to lead our community and leave yet another legacy. We hope you will cast your vote for Kim Lund for mayor.

Margie and Steve Kimberley



I am writing in support of the candidacy of Kim Lund for mayor of Bellingham. Lund's experience in team building and leading work teams, her excellent communication skills, sound judgment, vision and heart combined with her commitment to serve Bellingham, the city she grew up in, make her the most compelling Bellingham mayoral candidate in years. I have lived in Bellingham all of my life and have had a business career spanning 55 years. I am really excited about the possibilities for change and improvement in Bellingham with Kim Lund as mayor.

Please join me. Vote Kim Lund for mayor.

David A. Blair



I am not celebrating the 50 years of the spectacularly successful Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). While we taxpayers finance endeavors to promote salmon recovery and critical forage fish like herring (re: "Cherry Point's herring population didn't spawn" CDN July 21), the MMPA has fostered an explosion of the pinniped populations of seals and sea lions who prey upon them. From 1975 to to 2015, the number of harbor seals in the Salish Sea increased from 8,500 to 78,000.

Sea lion populations along the West Coast have exceeded 300,000, according to tribal sources. Tribes complain that seals and sea lions take six times more salmon in Puget Sound and the Olympic coast than tribal and nontribal fisheries combined. Under the MMPA, pinnipeds enjoy more protection than almost any other species. They undermine tribal treaty rights to fishing, and state salmon recovery efforts.

It makes no sense for our efforts to be hijacked to feed overpopulated seals and sea lions. The MMPA is in dire need of revision to allow regional flexibility to address issues arising since its passage 50 years ago. 

Jean Freestone



Regarding the mayor's race, the question is, "Why would I not vote for Seth Fleetwood?" The mayor deserves a second term. He’s successfully dealt with serious issues that previous mayors have not had to handle. The mayor, in his tenure, has had to step into civic fires more than once, forced to take corrective action in the management of problems nominally considered "big city" problems. He has done a good job working to balance the needs of the general population versus those of noisy advocacy groups. 

Representative issues resolved successfully:

  • Occupy City Hall. His leadership brought the crisis to a soft landing with minimal violence.
  • Poop Plant revamp. He canceled the city council’s billion-dollar Sewer Plant boondoggle.
  • Banned addicts from shooting up in public with the Open Use Ordinance.
  • Hired security and ambassadors to monitor criminal activity and graffiti.
  • Implemented the plastic bag ban.
  • An early advocate for the successful Greenways programs. 

Mayor Fleetwood is commended for addressing public safety by taking ownership of the problem of drug use in the downtown area. The resultant new ordinance is a baby step, slowing the rate of decay of the downtown area. 

The other candidates have not demonstrated, either in the interviews or public statements, the required experience or temperament showing they could do a better job than the incumbent has done so far. 

Why make change just for the sake of change?

Bob Morton 



Who’s the racist? Speak critically of the extreme right-wing policies of Israel toward Palestinians and it’s assumed the speaker holds Jews collectively responsible. The speaker is immediately accused of racism or antisemitism. Such weaponized name-calling demeans the speaker and kills any meaningful discourse. 

The following are some international law violations by Israel, drawn from various United Nations reports, that discriminate against Palestinians: violent suppression of peaceful popular resistance against Israel’s illegal colonial occupation, which inevitably leads to armed resistance; collective punishment of civilian Palestinians because of subsequent aforementioned armed resistance; government sponsored settler “pogrom” rampages, such as setting villages afire while Israeli soldiers stand-down; illegal killings and attacks on civilian communities including murders of more than 2,400 Palestinian children since 2000; forced transfers to “concentrated-living” refugee camps such as Gaza; theft of Palestinian land, property and livelihoods; denial of access to natural resources such as water; lack of granting residency status and family reunification; draconian movement control inside and outside the occupied Palestinian territory; arbitrary detention and arrest including children; and denial or restrictions on basic humanitarian aid.

The above issues underscore the 1948 “Catastrophe”: permanent displacement of the majority of Palestinian Arabs; expulsion of more than 700,000; destruction of more than 500 villages; and the slow-but-sure ethnic cleansing of Semitic-Palestinian society.

One may argue “Who’s the racist?”: the speaker who is critical of Israel’s policies or the government that implements racist policies. Explore the evidence rather than mainstream media’s avoidance of the issues and decide for yourself. 

Michael Jacobsen



Two old-guard professionals, who earned their bona fides by ethically serving the community in various capacities, recently spoke out in CDN about PeaceHealth management's cuts to outpatient palliative care. 

They are R. B. Swarens (CDN, July 19) and Dr. David Lynch (CDN, July 6). 

PeaceHealth Vancouver seems to have issued a gag order to all employees, including local management, to not respond to the ongoing public discontent about their executive suite, profit-driven decisions. 

There's not much more to say about PeaceHealth's egregious actions, first in slashing palliative care, but subsequently in ignoring the community it theoretically serves. It makes me think of another time in history, on a different topic. 

To slightly paraphrase Joseph N. Welch, "PeaceHealth, have you no sense of decency, at long last?" 

Delores Davies



R. B. Swarens' letter (CDN, July 19) in response to Dr. David Lynch's guest essay (CDN, July 6, 2023) captures the essence of whether the system-level PeaceHealth Governing Board is fulfilling its obligations. Is the PeaceHealth executive team in Vancouver meeting its mission-driven obligations?

Both writers, related to cutting outpatient palliative care services, question the rationale for PeaceHealth's decision. 

On June 25, 2020, Pope Francis approved a letter adopted in a Jan. 29, 2020, plenary session [in Rome], which stated, "Continuity of care is part of the enduring responsibility to appreciate the needs of the sick person: care needs, pain relief and affective and spiritual needs. As demonstrated by vast clinical experience, palliative medicine constitutes a precious and crucial instrument in the care of patients during the most painful, agonizing, chronic and terminal stages of illness. Palliative care is an authentic expression of the human and Christian activity of providing care, the tangible symbol of the compassionate 'remaining' at the side of the suffering person ... improving quality of life and overall well-being as much as possible and in a dignified manner. Experience teaches us that the employment of palliative care reduces considerably the number of persons who request euthanasia. To this end, a resolute commitment is desirable to extend palliative treatments to those who need them ..." 

A physician friend, who served with Mr. Swarens on the local St. Joe's Governing Board, expressed this: "Pope Francis says it all. A tax-exempt Catholic hospital should be, or at least feel, obligated to follow his direction."

Micki Jackson



When I met Kim Lund, I knew that she should be the next mayor of Bellingham. 

Before this meeting, I had expected to continue supporting the incumbent.

Meeting Kim Lund changed that. 

Her deep knowledge of every segment of the Bellingham community. Her active listening skills. Her proven leadership ability. Her enthusiasm and passion to make Bellingham the best community it can be — for every resident. These qualifications are compelling and rare. Yet this only skims the surface of Lund’s character and fitness to be our mayor.

Lund’s education and work experience, in both the private sector (team leader at Intel) and as executive director of the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation, coupled with her personal strengths, have perfectly positioned her to address the challenges that currently exist in Bellingham, as well as prepare Bellingham for unknown, yet inevitable future challenges.

She listens, evaluates information, then makes rational decisions. The characteristics of a true leader.

Indecision itself is a decision. Generally, the wrong one. Indecision has no place in Lund’s universe. 

I was honored to be elected mayor of Bellingham for three consecutive terms.

I know what it takes to be a successful mayor. Lund will be remarkably successful.

Lund has the intrinsic ability to adjust and adapt to the inevitably changing circumstances of our community that are the daily fare of the mayor’s office.

I strongly and enthusiastically endorse Kim Lund for mayor of Bellingham. When she is elected, all of Bellingham will win.

Mark Asmundson



The lame turnout for the July 18 "Candidate's Night" at the Point Roberts Community Center was a community embarrassment.

Eight candidates showed up, five for county executive and three for Whatcom County Council.

These folks, including incumbent County Executive Satpal Sidhu, made the 100-mile round trip to Point Roberts, a trip that included crossing two international borders (twice) with their campaign literature, campaign signs and their best messages.  

All this for an unappreciative Point Roberts audience of about 13 people.

Too bad, because this current slate of candidates is the most qualified, diverse, energetic and experienced in recent memory.

Where were the audience representatives from the local Point Roberts community groups? 

Particularly the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce, which has made bellyaching about the county's failure to do anything to improve Point Roberts' economic situation a full-time job?   

The local press was there but never raised one issue with the assembled candidates during an extended Q&A. 

The Point Roberts Registered Voters Association, which sponsored the event, provided a good public forum, publicity, snacks and plenty of seats for everyone.

It was the voters of Point Roberts that failed to deliver by not even showing up for the event.

John Lesow

Point Roberts and North Vancouver, B.C. 


Has PeaceHealth been bought out by a private equity firm? I'm aware that these nefarious companies have been targeting health care for corporate looting in recent years and have very secretive ways of laundering their acquisitions. The recent PeaceHealth clinic closings locally have all the characteristics of private equity management. Inquiring minds want to know.

Tom Horton



Kudos to the Bellingham City Council for advancing a new Greenways levy to the Nov. 7 ballot. Emulating the visionary activists who spurred a previous council to place the initial Greenways levy before voters more than 30 years ago, a contemporary group of citizens convinced the current council to let our community decide if we want to renew the comparatively modest Greenways property tax scheduled to expire at the end of this year. Now voters have the option to fund more open space, trails, urban forests, community gardens, parks and habitat lands. These amenities define the character of Bellingham and foster its climate resiliency. The council should be lauded for enabling voters to help define the nature of our common future.

Steve Walker


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).

The letters page was updated at 1:06 p.m. July 28, 2023 to correct the spelling of the name of letter writer Jon Lesow.

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