Letters to the Editor -- September 13, 2001

Published on Thu, Sep 13, 2001
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Letters to the Editor

Vote: new fire station?
The Editor:
What a golden opportunity we have September 18! We can approve a new fire station without seeing an increase in our taxes. As one bond issue closes the new one will begin.
Our firefighters are temporarily in a rented warehouse. They and we deserve better. We need to provide a code-complying station for these heroes. They are at our call. It is our turn to respond. We need to say we approve ballot Proposition #1. Our vote September 18 is crucial to our community.
Alma Wagner

The Editor:
I have read with interest several letters to the editor and news articles in your paper regarding the proposed new fire station for Blaine. I would like to offer a few comments regarding this subject.
First of all, does Blaine need a new fire station? You bet it does and has needed one for more than 20 years. Does Blaine need a $1.6 million fire station? That question needs more in-depth consideration.
Fire district #13 has built three fire stations over the past years and all of these stations together, I do not believe, totalled 1.6 million dollars.
The city’s fire services are now managed by the fire district, under contract. That means that the city’s fire station is similar to sub-stations within the district’s operation, and therefore, should do away with all the administrative offices and similar amenities that would be necessary if the city’s fire services were a stand-alone system. Therefore, a smaler and much less elaborate fire station would seem adequate for the city.
I have read the city’s ordinance which places this issue on the ballot. The ordinance states that acquiring land for the fire station is part of the fire station improvements, yet the fire district has indicated that they were going to purchase the land.
I have also discussed this matter with the fire district and they indicated that they felt the cost of this station would be somewhere in the six to seven hundred thousand dollar area. There is almost a million dollar discrepancy here.
The city’s ordinance further states that if this project becomes impractical or if there are funds left over after completing the fire safety improvements, the city may apply the bond proceeds or any portion thereof, to other public safety capital improvements. Is this what the people really understand that they are voting for?
I have discussed this with the Blaine city manager, and of course, he did not share my concern. He stated that the city might not even sell the bonds, if the measure on the city being annexed by the fire district did not pass in November.
The ballot title, which is in conflict with the adopted city ordinance, does not include land acquisition, as part of the proposition, to construct a new fire station.
Is this proposed $1.6 million facility which does not include property costs a facility that is designed to accommodate all the offices and operations for the newly formed North Whatcom fire & Rescue Services? If so, why would the taxpayers of Blaine be asked to pay for such a facility? Is this not something that should be shared by all the players and benefactors of this operation?
This whole proposal seems to be based upon poorly prepared or incomplete planning. This plan should include construction costs for a given-sized facility, site development costs, utilities and service charges, landscape, parking and other property improvements, professional services fees, and equipping of the facilities, which could be reviewed by any taxpayer interested. These costs are normally calculated carefully and are considered as estimates, with a fairly standard percentage as a contingency fund. To do most of this, a specific site is needed. It would appear that this is a pie-in-the-sky approach.
Statements that this project will not result in an increase in taxes, do not mean we should not be concerned how our monies are spent, and if we are getting the appropriate return value for our taxes. This whole proposal needs more answers then have been provided in any of the literature that supports it. In my opinion so does the current agreement for the North Whatcom Fire & Rescue Services. Just where is there any benefit to the taxpayers in Blaine to join in any kind of an operation with Point Roberts? This, however, is another subject matter too lengthy to cover in this letter.
Please consider this matter carefully. Do you know the answers? Based on my knowledge and experience, I don’t. Therefore I can not support this proposal on the September 18 ballot.
Jerry A. Joubert

Vote: mayor or manager?
The Editor:
Recipe for Blaine success. I found this recipe on a recent trip to England and Scotland where I fell in love with the people and their towns and villages.
1. Love and respect the place where you live. 2. Love and respect one another. 3. Love and serve your visitors. 4. Be in business to serve rather than to be served.
I would like to add to this, the following: 1. Respect, honor, and support your elected officials whether you agree or not with them. 2. Get involved – attend public meetings – work to make Blaine better. Note: As you may have read in this paper I will be voting for a new fire station. I will also be casting a vote of confidence in the current form of city government. However, you vote, do vote. If you do not vote, you may be letting yourself and others down.
Jim Zell

The Editor:
When problems pile up and the future looks threatening, we humans tend to live in the past and think of the past. We remember all of the pleasant things that happened and how differently we solved our problems. We tend to forget about the hours of sleep we lost worrying about yesterday’s problems.
The proposal on the Blaine ballot to change the form of government is one of those situations. We’re not happy with what is happening or what we have and we feel the only way to improve it is to go back. I disagree very much. You can’t ever solve new difficulties by going backwards. By that I don’t mean we can’t learn from some of the efforts and mistakes of the past, we can.
I served under 10 mayors in the years I worked for the city of Blaine. I think I learned considerably how the system works with a mayor and council. True, a mayor could hire an administrator to handle the technical problems with operating a city, but you certainly haven’t gained anything there as far as cost. The other thing is that I personally feel that a city manager or administrator is better off being directed by a group than by a single person.
It’s real easy for any of us in authority to begin to feel that we’ve got all of the answers, that we know what’s best. We fail to take time to consider other alternatives. This wouldn’t be true with a group because other alternatives would be brought up. Therefore, direction by a group, such as a city council, to me is far better. I hope the citizens and voters of Blaine this fall do not go backwards to the old form of government.
Trav Skallman

Dear Editor:
Mr. Jim Anderson is operating under some historical misapprehensions. Our founding fathers had plenty of political experience. The colonies were full of legislative bodies before the revolution. These legislatures held the colonial purse strings and, by that means, manipulated the governors sent out by the Crown. The founding fathers ran the country quite well under King George III and, as they were to prove, were quite capable of running it without him.
As for being against “elitists,” the founding fathers were the elitists of their day, with a capital “E.” The founding fathers, as a group, were actually an oligarchy. This is why they provided the constitution with just as many checks against the legislative power as they did against the executive. They ultimately trusted neither and wisely pitted both branches against each other to prevent the one from becoming an autocracy and the other from becoming an anarchy. Thus, their hegemony was preserved.
Now, Mr. Jefferson, whom I admire as eloquent in prose and lofty in democratic ideal, was very much an elitist. He was also pitifully indecisive as governor of Virginia during the revolution and would not support Washington with troops despite Washington’s many desperate appeals. Some of the decisions of Jefferson’s presidency lacked vision for the future, moral resolve, and political sagacity. If there was ever a good example of the pitfalls of elitism, Jefferson was probably it. So, Jefferson probably should not be touted as a “proponent” in a argument for a revision in the “elitist” form of government we enjoy in Blaine. Rather, Jefferson is more an example of what Mr. Anderson thinks he may be avoiding by changing the government. I might point out, however, that as neither Mr. White nor Mr. Anderson himself are in the government at present, lack of vision and political sagacity has momentarily been avoided.
The shining example – to the good – of the founding fathers and their elitism is, of course, George Washington. We judge the whole crew in the reflected glory of this purposefully cultivated legend. And legend may be Mr. Anderson’s strong suit. But never history.
Ken Ely

The Editor:
If you wish to continue the present city manager/council form of government in Blaine, you need to vote no on Proposition 2, on September 18.
This is one of those political conundrums when to be for something you have to vote no.
We have a talented staff with a highly qualified city manager, all working as a team. Why change what is working?
A majority of the seven member can react, if need be, to a change of staff, whereas an elected mayor is not accountable until the next election.
Cities who have an elected mayor, paid by the way, in the thousands of dollars, without exception, also have a city administrator, a well-paid professional in municipal government. Also, the elected mayors spend 20-30 hours a week on city business as well. Our budget and responsibility exceeds all other sister cities except Bellingham because we have a water/sewer/electric operation.
You elect leaders of your community when you vote for the seven-member council. Four positions are on the ballot in November. This is the place to put responsibility for leadership and setting policy. Then the city manager and staff carry them out. I believe this is working for Blaine. Vote no on Proposition 2.
Dieter Schugt

The Editor:
Jim Anderson can live in the past if he chooses, but we live in a complex world today and I believe Blaine needs to look to the future. The issue is not that the citizens of Blaine are incapable of making good choices in the voting booth.
The issue is that the candidate base is extremely limited. The city manager form of government has provided Blaine with a professional who brings many years of experience to the job. Gary Tomsic has proven to be a valuable asset. The Lummi Nation settlement plus his other accomplishments confirm that.
Vote no on 2.
LeAnne McGuire

The Editor:
A little history lesson for Jim Anderson. You state our forefathers believed that everyone should elect our leaders. You referred to Jefferson having no experience. Jefferson was a lawyer, minister to France, Secretary of State and Vice President before becoming President.
Our forefathers did not trust the general population.
1. We do not have direct election of the President even today. And you had to be 30 years old, etc. to vote. Remember who got the majority of votes in our last Presidential election.
2. U.S. Senators were picked by state legislators and only in 1913 was there a direct election by the people.
3. Women were not allowed to vote until 1920.
4. Minorities even today have difficulty voting. Remember the civil rights movement of the ‘60s?
And you want to run the city? Didn’t your dad resign as mayor because he could not run the city or get the council to accept his brand of politics? That’s why citizens in 1982 voted to go to a city manager/council form of government.
We need professional help in administering staff and following policy established by a seven member council.
Vote no on Proposition 2 to continue our excellent city manager and staff and form of government.
Kimberly Olsen

The Editor:
As an employee of the city of Blaine, I wish to give an opinion in support of the present city management. In the past, there have been many issues dividing the manager and employees. Gary Tomsic has promoted a new atmosphere that allows employees to be involved as a team with management. I have seen a great improvement in morale and productivity since Gary has come aboard. I see employees are more likely to step outside the box and make greater contribution without fear.
I don’t think a change in city government will eliminate the occurrence of poor city management. It takes open communication and a partnership between the city’s elected officials, citizens, managers and staff. I can understand some people still feeling the frustration created by poor practices in the past. I think we will, with the current management, bring about an environment of trust and open discussions. Possibly there could be an alternative to changing the city’s management structure by creating a formal method for citizens to voice confidence, or the lack of it, in the management of Blaine.
Mike Trueblood

The Editor:
Blaine Youth Baseball has just finished a successful 2001 baseball season. The following sponsors helped support another fun season for Blaine’s baseball youth. Our appreciation and thanks to: AA Pressure Washing, Able Electric, All American Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt, Automated Mailing Services, Blaine Marine, Com-Steel L.L.C., Dr. Chen, Deringer, Inc., Figaro’s Pizza, First Washington Net, Gourmetdeli.com, Justesen Inc., Nelson Buildings, NW Whatcom Firefighters Local 3867, Pacific Building Center, Prostock Athletic Supply, Semiahmoo Homes, Semiahmoo Kids Kamp, and Totally Chocolate.
Thanks for a great season!
Larissa Dhanani, Blaine Youth Baseball

The Editor:
This letter is two weeks overdue. The truth is that it was in fact written two weeks ago but appears to have launched itself into the ethers of the internet instead of the email system as was intended. So I find myself composing a second. That’s fine. What I have to say deserves to be said twice.
On behalf of the Blaine school district, and particularly the Blaine Family Service Center, I want to thank you for the excellent coverage Laura Thoren tendered in her account of our summer Best Self program. It is a most excellent program and quite worthy of coverage. This past summer Geof Morgan, Kevin Coomer, Barb Montfort and a cast of thousands put together a program that took the whole affair to a new level. The beauty of Best Self is found in its access to children and in its service learning projects. It virtually never says no to kids on the margins and this summer a truly audacious schedule of service learning projects was completed. It is a delight to be able to help fund this program through our Rising Tide/21st Century Community Learning Center Grant from the department of education. Next summer will bring our third, and we hope not our final, year of funding. It’s a program that deserves to be around for a long time.
Our compliments to Laura Thoren for a thoughtful job in bringing this wonderfully inclusive program to the community’s attention.
Leaf Schumann, director
Blaine Family Service Center

Going postal
The Editor:
I am writing to address a problem I have personally experienced with the Blaine post office. I know many other people I have spoken to, have also had problems with the services provided by our local post office as well.
Being a long-time resident of Blaine I only expect to be able to receive my mail. Since the cluster box system has been done, I, along with many other people I know, have been having difficulty receiving my mail.
I called to try to resolve this issue with the Blaine post office only to be told that the inconveniences I have experienced are basically too bad. Not only was the person I spoke to rude and demeaning, but I don’t feel anything was done to resolve my problems, in fact I think my calling made the problem worse! The person I spoke to at the post office took it upon their self to call and cause me more problems with a third party. To me, all of my postal information, legal information, etc. should be private and not anyone’s business but my own.
I have switched to using the Custer post office as it is not only cheaper but has much more friendly and accurate service. I guess my only questions now are, “What can be done to change the postal problems in this town?” and “Does a small town like this really have to have such terrible, unfriendly service?”
Shonna Ryan

Letters Policy
The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank-you letters should be limited to 10 names. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please send your letter to:
225 Marine Drive, Blaine, WA 98230 or fax 360/332-2777.

Letters Policy

The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank you letters are limited to five individuals or groups. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please email letters to letters@thenorthernlight.com