Letters to the editor: November 28 - December 4, 2013

Published on Tue, Nov 26, 2013
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The Editor:
As a concerned father, student and community member I am very disturbed to find the location of the proposed new jail. Does everyone know it is going to be in Ferndale? 
When I say in Ferndale I mean right off Interstate 5 and minutes away from downtown. Is this the best location to house criminals? Every community member I’ve spoken with tends to agree that this is absurd. According to the city of Ferndale website, “In Washington, state law says cities can’t ban these ‘essential public facilities’ from being built but can spell out in what areas and how they might be constructed.” If this is the law then can we please have the location moved, at least somewhere away from the city. Where do you think these criminals are going to live as soon as they get out? I’m sure the citizens of Ferndale are thinking that. 
It seems as though the public officials are asking Ferndale to sacrifice themselves. I wonder if any of them live in Ferndale. “Modern jails can look much more like college campuses than they do traditional jails,” a Ferndale staff memo said, according to the Bellingham Herald. So we now want a jail to look pretty. When you commit a crime against your community should you be afforded comforts?
 So many of us struggle to get by and we are going to build a jail that looks pretty. I thought they were supposed to be out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by wire, some scary place that people would be afraid to go to. Isn’t that a deterrent of crime? It just seems illogical that we would want to house criminals so close to where we live, work, and function as a community of good people.
Matthew Bense
Blaine

The Editor:
Last week’s issue included a “thank you” from Kathy Berg, Doralee Booth and Pat Jerns. We in Birch Bay should be thanking them and saluting them for their tireless efforts to make Birch Bay a wonderful place to live. Without their contributions, we are saddled again with only one county council member that cares about Birch Bay. As long as we remain part of the county and do not incorporate, we will be forced to rely on Barbara Brenner for proper representation and the efforts of people like Kathy Berg, Doralee Booth and Pat Jerns.
I also wanted to inform those people who like to bash China at every opportunity, that they should be better informed. In a recent visit, there was a short story on the start of manufacturing fully electric vehicles in Shenzhen, Guangdong. It was reported on one of the CCTV stations that these are state-owned by the Beijing government. These will not be hybrid vehicles but fully electric. As I attempted to understand the story in Chinese, these vehicles will be manufactured by either Honda or Volkswagen and will consist of cars and school buses and maybe more types of vehicles.
Also a few years ago I read an article in an English daily newspaper published in China about the efforts of young Chinese people going to Cambodia to construct new homes for the poor there. They were not paid for their volunteer work and actually had to pay $3,000 U.S. to cover their travel expenses and the cost of building material. I do not know of any U.S. organization that does this. Peace Corps volunteers are compensated and given benefits. 
I believe Habitat for Humanity is doing similar work in Cambodia and plan to inform their international office about the Chinese man who organized this volunteer work a few years ago. The work conditions in Cambodia were brutal for the young Chinese volunteers who had to work under severe conditions and not speaking Cambodian. The locals did appreciate their work.
Michele Masdeo
Birch Bay

The Editor:
I was slightly puzzled by the wording while reading this article the first time. But after reading it a second, and then a third time, my eyes weren’t trying to fool me. It says exactly what I thought it did.
It’s just another story of someone who doesn’t know how to give without condition and expects to get the glory in the long run. This “benevolent” donor who is willing to donate a huge sum of money to a very upstanding cause, but if and only if our town can come up with the same amount first, doesn’t seem so generous in my eyes.
Yes, a donation of this size would be a great asset to the local food bank. But in the season of giving, shouldn’t we be doing kind things for others, just because it’s the right thing to do? 
Why not just donate the money without condition? Or, if that’s too much giving and not enough Grinch, match every dollar earned up to $25,000. 
You might even save yourself some money that way. Especially for a service that won’t be able to provide Thanksgiving meals this year in an effort to save up for Christmas meals. 
Don’t you think there’s a better option? Why make people work so hard for it? It’s the holiday season, open your heart a little and put someone else’s needs ahead of your own.
Jeremy Taylor
Blaine

The Editor:
We are in the midst of a GOP and media feeding frenzy over the roll-out of the federal healthcare website, but I have seen very little information on how well our state’s health exchange is doing or where people can get help in signing up. The L.A. Times (November 12) article “Washington state is making health exchange work” shows that we are far ahead of other states in sign-ups. Locally, help is available at Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement, Mount Baker Planned Parenthood, Interfaith Community Center, Opportunity Council and Sea-Mar Community Health Clinic. I recently talked with neighbors who went to the Alliance, were signed up in 20 minutes and were pleasantly surprised at how low their premiums will be.
It is unfortunate that the federal website is in so much trouble, but I believe a big part of the problem was caused by the 26 Republican governors who refused to set up exchanges in their states, forcing the federal government to do it for them. 
The federal website must interface with too many different insurance companies and too many different state regulations adding a totally unnecessary level of complexity. 
Many of those governors also refused to allow an expansion of Medicaid in their states. I hope their citizens will realize how poorly they have been served by the GOP and will vote Democratic in the next election.
Sharon Alford
Bellingham

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