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The Gristle

Election Fraud

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

ELECTION FRAUD: This week marks the end of the reporting cycle for campaign finance disclosures to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission for this election, meaning the curtain now comes down on who receives what in campaign contributions and who spends what in last-minute media buys. We’ve now entered what has traditionally been the Dirty Tricks eclipse of local elections, where ugly shadow money long withheld comes flooding into campaigns only to be fired out again in torpedoes of late-hour hit pieces filled with lies, smears and petty character assassinations, the background of which won’t fully surface until after the election.

The irony for voters who have not yet made up their minds about which candidates deserve their vote is the quality and reliability of information that surfaces from this point forward is much reduced. So let’s review what we already know about this county election:

Several broad themes have been outlined.

Foremost among them is “jobs,” in what is almost certainly a euphemism for support of the proposed coal pier. Candidates are loathe to talk about the Gateway Pacific Terminal directly, although clearly they have the liberty to do so if they choose, and instead reduce this to the encoded dogwhistle of “jobs.” In this context, “jobs” is almost always code-speak for reducing or destroying the regulatory safeguards that maintain the health and safety of county residents. What else can it mean, when proponents of this view invariably cite the incompetence or inappropriateness of the role government plays in job creation? If government is always the problem, then the only positive role government can play is by being crippled and absent from the equation.

A second broad theme revolves around the protection of property rights from “distant boards in Olympia” and “from lawsuits from people who do not care about Whatcom County.” This, again, represents code-speak in support of the destruction of the regulatory framework that protects other citizens and other property owners. Additionally, it serves as coded justification for the county’s continued non-compliance with the state’s Growth Management Act, the only remaining county in Washington still defiant of state law.

Stepping back a moment, what does compliance with GMA mean?

Well, briefly, it means the county no longer supports policies that are “clearly erroneous” in their understanding of state law.

The “clearly erroneous” construction is important, because counties are automatically presumed to be correct in their application of state law, their decisions are presumed to be wise decisions in the public’s interest, and one essentially must go to court and provide compelling evidence that shows the county is in error beyond a shred of doubt. That’s a high bar. Even wrongheaded county land policy that cannot be clearly demonstrated through evidence as being erroneous stands. When the law is so overwhelmingly on the county’s side, think about how terribly unlawful a county must be to be outside of that frame. Then consider the integrity of candidates for public office who declare they intend to stay that way, that they’ll use your money to stay that way.

We’ve mentioned before that the process of appealing county land decisions is litigious by design. The county is presumed correct in its decisions. People who dispute those decisions must file formal protest with the state, they must present evidence to the state through a formal process similar to (and in some cases identical to) a courtroom with a panel of judges on the bench. So when candidates say they are fighting “lawsuits from people who don’t care,” recognize that they are talking about you and your right under the law to protest county acts that are foolhardy or that harm you.

Zooming in, how many aggrieved parties are out there suffering harm from restrictive county land policy? If certain candidates are going to spend four years fighting for these aggrieved landowners, shouldn’t voters know how many are represented?

The short answer is, essentially, zero.

No one who holds a vested property right in Whatcom County has been financially harmed through county land use policies. In some cases, speculative profits have been lost when the county has not authorized a use the speculator wanted, or when—to gain compliance with state law—an improper use is restored back to a proper use.

In the 1990s, County Council upzoned hundreds of acres in defiance of GMA. They created phantom profits for those property owners. When the council upzone was challenged and overturned, these property owners continued to hold their original rights. They simply were not entitled to speculative profits created through the council’s lawlessness.

Washington is the easiest state in the country to get a vested right, and Whatcom County is probably the easiest place in Washington to get a vested right. You only have to submit an application—it doesn’t even have to be approved. It’s only slightly more restrictive than sketching your plan on a cocktail napkin and then screaming you have rights to millions.

This is what candidates Kershner, Knutzen, Luke, and Elenbaas say they are protecting.

Most outstanding land claims have been settled, landowner requests accommodated. The county is pretty close to compliance. There are a few claims held by land speculators in the north county and on the Guide Meridian that probably cannot be satisfactorily accommodated. These candidates promise they’ll rip up agreements and start the cycle of grievances all over again.

You don’t have to look far to find fraud in this election. Fraud is the central thread running through it.

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A Matter of Equity

August 24, 2016

A Lock on the Crypt

August 17, 2016

Zombie Terror

August 10, 2016

A Raucous Caucus

August 3, 2016

Lockup Lockstep

July 27, 2016

Polar Wastes

July 20, 2016

Chapter Two

July 13, 2016

Close the Schools!

June 22, 2016

Closing a Circle

June 8, 2016

Roads to Nowhere

May 25, 2016

Trails versus Jail

May 18, 2016

‘We Draw The Line’

May 11, 2016

Four, or Forever

May 4, 2016

Five Favor Five

April 27, 2016

Ag Gag

April 20, 2016

State of the County

April 13, 2016

Events
Today
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

5Point Adventure Film Festival

10:00am|Downtown Bellingham

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Bow Little Market

1:00pm|Belfast Feed Store

Garden Dedication

3:00pm|Mount Vernon City Library

Blues, Brews & BBQ

5:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

Vintner Dinner

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Riverwalk Summer Concert Series

6:00pm|Riverwalk Park

Move to Amend

6:00pm|Mount Vernon

Fiction Writing Group

6:00pm|Village Books,

Elizabeth Park Concert Series

6:00pm|Elizabeth Park

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Swinomish 2016 Andrew Subin
Tomorrow
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

5Point Adventure Film Festival

10:00am|Downtown Bellingham

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

What's Next?

9:00am|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Wild Things

9:30am|Lake Padden

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Ferndale Farmers Market

1:00pm|Cherry Street

Barbecues and Beach Parties

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Ferndale Street Festival

6:00pm|Downtown Ferndale

Summer Concert Series Finale

6:00pm|Seafarers Park

Art Party

6:00pm|Tillie Lace Gallery

Farm Tunes

6:00pm|BelleWood Acres

Final Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Historic Fairhaven and downtown Bellingham

Final Dancing on the Green

7:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Wine and Music

7:00pm|Artifacts Cafe and Wine Bar

A Little Night Music

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Doubles

9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Bellingham Farmer’s Market Northwood Steak and Crab
Saturday
5Point Adventure Film Festival

10:00am|Downtown Bellingham

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Barbecues and Beach Parties

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Ferndale Street Festival

6:00pm|Downtown Ferndale

Final Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Historic Fairhaven and downtown Bellingham

A Little Night Music

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Doubles

9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Hall

Twin Sisters Farmers Market

9:00am|Nugent's Corner

Sedro Car Show

9:00am|United General Fitness Center

Mount Vernon Farmers Market

9:00am|Riverfront Plaza

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Island Market

10:00am|Islander Grocery

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|Peace Portal Drive

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Wondermud

10:00am|Bellingham BMX

Discover Birch Bay Days

10:00am|Birch Bay Drive

Sumas Writers Group

10:00am|Sumas Library

Improv for Kids

10:30am|Improv Playworks

Fidalgo Bay Day

11:00am|Fidalgo Bay Resort

A Swinging Weekend

12:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Holly Street History Tour

1:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

This Old House

2:00pm|Point Roberts Community Center

Nooksack River Walk

3:00pm|Horseshoe Bend Trailhead

Drinking for Dogs

4:00pm|Green Frog Acoustic Tavern

Downtown Throwdown

4:00pm|Public Market

Scary Monster & the Super Creeps

5:00pm|Heart of Anacortes

Toys for Tots Benefit Concert

5:00pm|Eagle Haven Winery

Moonlight in Margaritaville

5:30pm|Maple Hall

An Evening with Ann Morris

7:30pm| Lummi Island Library

Circus on the Water

8:00pm|Lookout Arts Quarry and Boundary Bay Brewery

see our complete calendar »

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