Letters to the Editor: October 27 - November 2, 2011

Published on Wed, Oct 26, 2011
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The Editor,
I attended the Blaine City Council meeting on Monday, 24 October, and was very satisfied to find out that the City of Blaine fully backs all efforts to retain the train station and establish a commuter stop. They are negotiating with the railroad at this time, but need help from the citizens of Blaine, and that help comes in the form of submitting either written letters via US Postal Service or email letters to individual government representatives requesting assistance. You can find the ideas and suggestions on the new website – www.blainestation.com.  I urge each and every person in Blaine and all surrounding communities to visit the web site and take a few minutes to read and educate themselves and then forward to the named representatives your thoughts, suggestions and concerns.  This can be accomplished with the entire community of Blaine, Birch Bay, Custer, Ferndale, Point Roberts and White Rock working together.
I would also like to invite each and every one of you to the next meeting at City Hall at 6 p.m. on 14, November, 2011, to further show the council our support.
David Riffle
Blaine, WA

The Editor:

I like your paper. It’s “homey.” I especially enjoy the police blotter.
However, I must comment on your October 13 issue. Your sports reporter, in his Blaine High School homecoming story, writes  “... quarterback Nathan Kramme was sacked for a fumble, effectively ending the October 7 game at 19 - 21, another agonizing 3-point defeat.”
First of all, no sports reporter should give a score with the losing score first, and the winning score second. It’s bad form. I realize he was likely reading it that way from the scoreboard, but it should never be translated to print in that fashion.
Secondly, the writer, as well as the editor, should be embarrassed especially the “3-point” defeat was repeated in the article’s headline. No loss at 21 - 19, or 19 - 21, constitutes a 3-point loss either by new math, or the old math that I was taught so many years ago.
Who’s checking this stuff, anyway?

Jim Driscoll

The Editor:

Our communities will be crushed by 48 million tons of coal if SSA Marine is allowed to go forward with its proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal for transporting coal at Cherry Point. One hundred and sixty Whatcom County doctors say there is no safe level of coal dust exposure, and it will be a significant risk to our health.
It will also be devastating to our environment and waters surrounding us and our quality of life. The only ones who will benefit from this are SSA Marine, Peabody Coal, and the other investors involved in this project because they will be making tons of money shipping tons of coal to China.
The only positive thing SSA Marine and advocates of this facility can say is it will bring potential jobs to our area. Their job projection is misleading. The vast majority of those will be temporary.
I know I won’t want to live in this area after it’s built, and neither will many others. Property values will decrease, and it will be difficult to sell our homes.
Every day 18 coal trains will transport coal to Cherry Point, and those trains will be up to two miles long. Coal trains are the loudest, heaviest and dirtiest on the rails. These trains will block our lifelines such as ambulances, fire, rescue and police, which can mean the difference between life and death. Also, motorists will have to endure frequent, very long waits at track intersections.
Yearly, 3,152,578 pounds of coal dust from these coal storage piles would escape, blowing into our communities and waterways. Each car in a coal train can lose 500 pounds of coal dust along its route.
These indisputable facts reveal how devastating it will be to our communities.
SSA Marine already showed it can’t be trusted by illegally clearing nine acres of wetlands and forest areas in the Cherry Point area without obtaining a permit. SSA was slapped on the wrist with a small fine and ordered to restore that area. How is that even possible?
SSA is telling us everything will be safe when the facts tell us otherwise. Let’s stop them in their tracks!

Sandy Robson

The Editor:

Although I endeavor to support the local merchants in Blaine as much as I can, it would seem that Blaine City Council has delusions of grandeur with regard to Amtrak or BNSF opening a passenger station in town. I could well see that some people might take advantage of the service by taking the train south to Seattle, Tacoma or even Portland. Their round trips, however, would be viewed by the rail line providing service as only 50 percent of possible income. It would be looking for the other 50 percent to come from the south to Blaine. But what’s the attraction in Blaine at this point in time?
Perhaps Ken Imus was right – make Blaine a destination first. Simply having a station doesn’t mean the people will come.

Richard Mollette

The Editor:

I just received my fancy, expensive, high-gloss advertisement in the mail from SSA Marine. I read in The Northern Light that SSA Marine is soon going to hire people to come to my door. All I can wonder is how much are they spending on this and why?
Two facts about coal are 1) Coal dust has no threshold on health (meaning that it immediately begins to impact health, increasing cancer, lung disease, heart disease, and birth defects, as researched by our local doctors); and 2) Coal dust strips oxygen from the water (meaning that it kills living sea creatures in the water and on the beaches).
As I don’t have millions to spend on an outreach campaign here’s what I have to say on the matter: Coal is a dirty business. I love my local tourist industry, local fishing industry, local businesses, local farming, and local real estate agencies, which will likely be diminished if not gone should we have a coal port that dumps massive amounts of coal dust each year into the air in my neighborhood. What SSA Marine doesn’t tell you is that tourists don’t typically visit industrialized coal ports, and property values tend to drop significantly near coal ports too.
Even more importantly, I care about the health of our local children, elderly, and sea life. As for meeting environmental standards, history shows us that the regulatory system was set up and controlled by corporations from the beginning. Read the expensive ads from SSA Marine or find out the facts for yourself at websites like www.re-sources.org/home/Gateway-Pacific-Terminal/the-impacts. Or just visit any non-corporate-sponsored website on coal. The question is, will the citizens of this area allow big corporate government to control our future, jeopardizing our health and property values, or will we do what other small conservative communities in this nation are doing and work together to determine our own destiny?

Suzanne Ravet
Birch Bay

The Editor:

After attending multiple candidate forums I have observed a consistent difference between the two candidates. Sheriff Elfo has a broad range of experience and a comprehensive view of the needs and relationships of the county and the Sheriff’s Office. Detective Harris, on the other hand, gives the image of a someone looking through binoculars from the wrong end. He is able to see some things in great detail but has difficulty seeing the complete picture. This may be a great skill for a detective but does not transfer well to leading an organization. Please vote for a proven professional with vision and experience to continue as our Sheriff. Vote Elfo for Sheriff.

John Fuller

The Editor:

In all of the information regarding the SSA coal port at Cherry Point I have not seen anything regarding the negative impact the facility will have on the new Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve county park. With its serene setting on a quiet road at the south end of Birch Bay, it is a beautiful place to spend a few hours (or a day) with a peaceful walk through the woods on a well-marked and handicapped-accessible trail with a view of the water. The beach is a moderate climb on a well-groomed trail. It is one of the few beaches in the north part of the county that doesn’t have a day-use fee and is an economical way for a family to bring a picnic lunch and spend a day having fun on a saltwater beach.
I think the pleasure and solitude of this lovely place would be destroyed with a world-class coal port just around the corner. Needless to say, the fallout would have disastrous effects on this new park.
This is just one more reason I do not believe Cherry Point is the right place for a large coal terminal, plus it is in close proximity to the wonderful beaches of Birch Bay, which families have been enjoying for generations.

Marilyn Vaux
Birch Bay

The Editor:

I recently received a flyer in the mail stating that “thousands of mini marts, gas stations and convenience stores across the state will be selling liquor if Initiative 1183 passes.” This is the same fear campaign that prevented similar measures from passing last time. After reading the new initiative entirely, I concluded those accusations are without merit and are the furthest thing from the truth.
To obtain a retail liquor license a store must have a minimum of 10,000 square feet. Convenience stores, gas stations and mini marts are typically under 3,000 square feet. Unlike previous initiatives, these types of stores will not qualify. Period. There are two exceptions to the 10,000 square foot rule. 1) A number of existing liquor stores in the state are contract liquor stores, independently owned, and usually exist in smaller communities like Bow/Edison. These stores are less than 10,000 square feet, and will be allowed to continue business should they want to. 2) There are some even smaller communities in the state, called trade areas, that don’t have a 10,000-square-foot supermarket or a contract liquor store. These smaller communities can petition the state to get one liquor store for their community. If they meet all of the strict qualifications, one convenience store, gas station or mini mart may be awarded a license to sell liquor in that community. There will not be an explosion of liquor stores. The law prevents that from happening in I-1183.
As we move closer to the election, voters need to rely on accurate information. Opponent campaigns are steered by fear-based logic leaps that play on voter confusion and mistrust. Even though it is lengthy, read the initiative yourself. I for one do not appreciate being misled. Vote yes on I-1183.

Steve Papadakis

The Editor:

There is no better object lesson than Tony Larson’s vote since he joined the Whatcom County Council to re-zone areas of our county to allow huge expansion gravel mining essentially in our back yard. Expanding this dirty, polluting, property-value-reducing extraction industry against the will of the people who voted him into office was bad enough. Taking thousands of dollars of campaign money from outside corporate gravel interests while voting against the will of his constituents was truly appalling.
This is the kind of ‘pay-to-play’ politics which needs to be vanquished from politics so that the interests of We the People can be achieved instead of the interests large, often outside corporate stakeholders. The alternative, if Mr. Larson and his ilk remain in office will be the inflows of more and more outside influence which will shape our county in ways beyond our control.
For these reasons, my vote goes to Pete Kremen. Indeed, Mr. Kremen is a seasoned public servant with broad understanding of county issues, and a long history of well-balanced decision making which support jobs and families in Whatcom County while preserving our priceless recreational environment. Kremen for County Council!

Roni Lenore

The Editor:

I am writing in support of Steve Harris for Whatcom County Sheriff. My Husband and I have had many discussions with Mr. Harris over the years. I have found him to be someone that approaches his life in a way that I find admirable. Mr. Harris has a strong moral character and he is a thoughtful minded individual with deep convictions, however, he does not present them in an arrogant way but rather in a thoughtful way; listing to others opinions and considering them while trying to understand their point of view. Mr. Harris has a strong sense of responsibility to both his family and the community. I know that he volunteers his time with many different organizations. I know that Mr. Harris has not taken his decision to run for Whatcom County Sheriff lightly. He truly believes that something must change and he is confident that when elected he can make the Sheriff’s Department a leaner more efficient department while protecting the citizens of Whatcom County.
As we approach this upcoming election, I urge you to do your homework. Observe what both men stand for, not just by what they say, but also by what they do.

Lisa Manos

The Editor:

Voters will soon make a very important decision by choosing a new county executive. This position requires oversight of nearly 800 employees and millions of taxpayer dollars; it is primarily a CEO position and secondarily a political position.
I believe the choice is between a proven, effective CEO who is secondarily a politician and a politician. Jack Louws has experience serving as Lynden’s mayor for eight years which will be very helpful to running Whatcom County. His opponent has no similar experience. Mr. Louws also ran a successful business for 28 years, while his opponent has no such experience.
I worked with Mayor Louws before I retired from the County Library and I appreciated his inclusive, practical, and balanced manner. And he understood the importance making kids feel special by, for example, handing out special certificates to those who had completed library programs.
I want a county executive who will serve all of us with our various political affiliations and who will make me proud to say he is our executive.

Sigrid Brorson

The Editor:

I am delighted to give my support to Jack Louws for Whatcom County Executive. He is blessed with two of the greatest qualifications that anyone seeking that office could possess. He is a man of moral integrity and great experience.
I worked with his father, John Sr., on the Lynden City Council and then as our first Whatcom County Executive. In later years, I worked with Jack when he was a Lynden City Council member and then mayor. I have appreciated that measure of integrity they both have displayed.
Experience is a quality that no one can buy. It is only attained through time and hard work. Throughout the years that I have worked and served with Jack, he has displayed an extraordinary amount of these important and valuable qualities.
It is my sincere hope that others will agree to support Jack and elect him as our next Whatcom County Executive to continue the level of good government that we have enjoyed over the years.

Egbert Maas

The Editor:

I have known Christina Maginnis since she first moved to Bellingham and I had the pleasure of attending her master’s thesis presentation at WWU. Her research involved the Lake Whatcom watershed, and she presented complex information clearly to non-experts while easily answering the toughest questions from the experts in the room. She was well prepared and showed an ability to defuse a politically charged issue with researched facts.
Christina will bring those same attributes to the County Council. She will be prepared with a thorough understanding of the tough issues. She will work professionally with members of the community and co-members of the council. She will work for the long-term well being and economic vitality of our community. Please join me in voting for Christina Maginnis for the Whatcom County Council!

Kent Chasson

The Editor:

Sheriff Elfo’s efficient management benefits the citizens of Whatcom County. I have served as a reserve deputy sheriff in Whatcom County for 18 years. Despite heavy budget cuts Sheriff Elfo continues to provide the county with high levels of services. Using his long management and command experience he has organized the available resources for maximum efficiency.
He has developed a large reserve unit to back up the regular patrol deputies. He uses a large cadre of experienced volunteers to assist with search and rescue functions. He has successfully placed his trust in his patrol deputies to report directly to their work areas. He utilizes both interns and volunteers to perform important functions not in conflict with collective bargaining agreements. He developed a special response (SWAT) team within the existing patrol division that reports directly to where they are needed. Last year Sheriff Elfo directed his staff to examine gang activity and since has put together a team of federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel to deal with this growing gang problem.
The Deputies Guild voted to endorse Bill’s leadership by over 80 percent. Those who work most closely with him clearly and overwhelmingly approve of his job performance.

Mark Shintaffer

The Editor:

I am writing in support of re-electing Sheriff Bill Elfo.  With a background of 25 years in law enforcement, I would like to respond to two of the statements made by Mr. Harris regarding Sheriff Elfo.
Mr. Harris claims that Sheriff Elfo has no practical, i.e. “street” experience, as a police officer “in the state of Washington.”  Sheriff Elfo started his career as a patrolman at age 19 and has worked virtually every position and skill available to a police officer.  Mr. Harris implies that somehow, police experience gained in another state does not count.  This implication has no merit.
The flip side of this coin is, what leadership, administrative and management experience does Mr. Harris have?  His years on the sheriff department have all been at patrolman level.  There is nothing wrong with that, as many police officers choose to work their entire career as “street cops.”  I would suggest, however, that this kind of background does not prepare a person to manage a $21 million organization with well over 200 employees.
Mr. Harris has stated that Sheriff Elfo has produced a militaristic atmosphere within the sheriff’s department.  His basis for this statement seems to be based solely on the fact that Sheriff Elfo established a special response team (i.e. SWAT team) in our county.  That is simply good, responsible police tactics.  Patrol officers are not equipped and frequently not trained to handle heavily armed, barricaded criminals.  Special response teams, of necessity, use many of the same tactics, weapons and disciplines as the military.
Sheriff Elfo’s job, by definition, is “ the chief law enforcement officer of the county,” not chief social worker.  Law enforcement is what he does. Therefore, I strongly support his re-election.

Paul Myers

The Editor:

Any elected office requires the occupant to be educated, experienced and competent. The office of sheriff demands even more than that – it also requires high personal integrity and a high level of professionalism. Sheriff Elfo meets those requirements in every way. He has a proven record of law enforcement command experience and training that has resulted in the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office becoming one of the best in the state. That’s why I am voting to re-elect Sheriff Elfo.

Marvin Wolff

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