Letters to the Editor, Week of Sept. 20, 2023

Candidate praise, short-week angst and an ode to non-spawn
September 20, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.


Our schools need devoted, focused and, most importantly, reality-based people to serve on our school board. Too often, candidates bring inflammatory national politics to our school board — driving away quality educators and dividing our community. It is time for good, honest public servants to step up and take back our schools.

That's why I am so grateful that Riley Sweeney is running for Meridian School Board. Whether on the Irene Reither Elementary PTA or working for the City of Ferndale, Riley works to create quality experiences for kids in Whatcom County. He will support our extra-curricular programs like arts, music and theater and most importantly, make sure that our schools are a welcoming place for all families. 

I've known Riley for many years — he's a good man and ready to serve. His opponent is more interested in chasing national politics than supporting our teachers. The choice could not be more clear. Please join me in voting for Riley Sweeney for Meridian School Board.

Kate Hisdal



I support Kim Lund for mayor of Bellingham. I have seen her speak at multiple events and am so impressed by her ideas, courage and experience. Bellingham desperately needs a mayor with leadership skills. We need a mayor that can make a difficult decision and then follow through with implementation. Our current "leadership" has been entrenched at City Hall for too long. We have heard too many excuses and it is time for a change! 

Kim Lund is the right person at the right time. Kim was born and raised here, was the first in her family to go to college, and returned home to raise a family here. She has been a proven leader in the community and we need her skill and courage at City Hall. I encourage everyone to take a moment to learn about Kim and to please support her campaign and give her your vote. Go Kim!

Kenn Mann



I am a resident of the South Fork Valley and an enthusiastic supporter of Donnell (“Tank”) Tanksley for Whatcom County sheriff. Whilst I am doorbelling for Tank in my neighborhood, I often hear of people’s desire for a true sea change in Whatcom County policing. They are looking for faster responses in rural areas. They want more respect for residents who may be financially or socially disadvantaged. They are ready for an individual with a broader world experience in public safety and a robust educational background. 

Tank can meet, and has met, these criteria in his extensive experience as a police officer and military veteran. He is the chief of police in Blaine, well-liked in the community, and has hired a diverse workforce. 

He was the assistant chief of police at WWU for three years. He spent 21 years at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, retiring as lieutenant. He served in the military for 22 years and retired honorably from the Air Force as a first sergeant. His education climbs to the master’s level. Wow, what a resume! 

Yet, Tank is about the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. He cares about people! He volunteers for the Whatcom County Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force, the Bellingham-Whatcom Commission on Sexual and Domestic Violence and the Mount Baker Foundation. 

I urge readers to vote for Donnell Tanksley in November. We can bring enlightened and humane policing to the county we love.

Virginia Naef



The 32-hour work week (CDN, Aug. 25, 2023) is an embarrassing, sad reflection on San Juan County. Hardworking Island taxpayers are funding full-time pay and benefits for part-time work? Claims that this doesn’t come with changes in county services, while next saying offices may have to adjust hours or close one day, is contradictory. That is a loss of service, to say otherwise is dishonest.

Imagine what the industrious private business owners/staff think about the argument that a 40-hour week does not allow for “good work-life balance” as they work 50, 60-plus hours a week for the success of their enterprise. Raised to understand that money comes from work and recognizing the dignity of working hard, they know that the balance of industry and personal life is up to each individual to manage themselves. What a proclamation of entitlement that our government workers need to spend time with family, volunteer, travel and go to appointments while expecting private workers to fully fund their now part-time profession.

Our county workers are professional and dedicated. Having pride in their work, many will have to go above and beyond the 32 hours to complete their workload, and what an insult to hardworking youth as well. Set the bar low and guess what you will get? What happens a few years from now when 32 hours is just too hard?

Lauren Cohen

Friday Harbor



In reading some of the criticisms of the new jail measure, I encounter the common refrain: This is a large amount of money with an ambiguous definition as to what the funds will be used for.

In large capital projects there is always ambiguity. I like to keep in mind the old saying: It is better to be generally right than precisely wrong. We can’t keep deferring solutions for want of precision.

A new jail is an investment in the justice system for our community. It has been neglected for decades at this point and the cost of new construction is estimated at $137 million. A big number. But let’s put it into context of other similar capital investments in our community. In 2013, Bellingham voted in a levy for $160 million to fund the reconstruction of Options High and Sehome High. The funds were put to use in 2017 when construction started. Sehome cost $103 million. Options was $21 million. That year, Whatcom County collectively broke ground on $240 million for just school projects!

Publicly and privately, we do large capital projects all the time. Health care, schools, housing, shelters all get regular investment. The jail hasn’t been invested in since the 1980s while our population more than doubled.

We never know exactly how public money will be spent when we are asked to make a decision. The county council has approved a process for building the new jail. Setting the budget is an important first step. Vote yes.

Adam Bellingar 



Ode to Cherry Point Herring

Cherry Point Herring have ceased to spawn,
Such news I now mourn.
Once the greatest run of all,
Now there’s none left to call.

They once were king,
Just spawning in spring.
No mates to be found,
Except those like them around.

Some blamed it on the season.
But there was no reason,
Not to look to shore,
Where two refineries glow.

ARCO’s construction
Coincided with their destruction.
A major oil spill the following year,
Over a massive spawn did it smear.

Refineries doubling capacity
Further reduced their veracity.
Ensuing increases in pollution,
Claimed offset by dilution.

Photo enhanced toxicity
Another aspect of our complicity.
For our failure to make the connection,
Between the sun and chemical reaction.

With terminal lights ablaze night and day,
Herring tend to stray.
And with tankers’ rumbling sounds
Keep them from their spawning grounds.

Opposing a Reserve and ESA listings,
Big oil said research not for listening,
While their shimmering numbers continued to fall,
There was no one left to call.

 Even a successful 20-year fight,
To enforce Magnuson’s might.
Afforded them little protection,
Given the Army Corps’ interpretation.

Call them prey or bait,
Theirs’ is tied to so many fates.
From salmon, scoters, seals to whales.
We counted to zero while moving like snails.

With so little spent by Feds or State,
To try to restore their fate,
Conducting more meager research into their fall
I fear, like the reach, not much Point at all.

But now we are told,
They just went where it’s cold.
Up to Canada they say.
For this, some may pray...

Fred Felleman

Seattle/San Juan Island

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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