Letters for the week of September 19, 2018

Not a dime to spare

A recent letter points out that 67 percent of voters would not support a $3 a month increase in energy costs to pay for restoring the salmon in the Salish Sea. A percent of the population this large saying they are not wanting to support salmon restoration feels like a lot of people for this area. Usually we’re the first to get behind anything like this.
But what explains this lack of support for salmon? My opinion? At least part of the answer lies in another problem we’re dealing with, namely, the economy. Put another way, does anyone have a couple bucks to spare?
No, I really don’t. From a recent issue of the Cascadia Weekly, 40.6 million Americans live below the poverty level, or, 12.7 percent of the population. The income of 15.2 percent of Whatcom County’s population is below the poverty level. And 37.7 percent of Whatcom County’s households are paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent and mortgages.
Somewhere I think I read that the price of housing has gone up faster than wages, and that Whatcom County costs are a bit more than Seattle.
My point in all this is, a lot of people are feeling like they are just barely getting by.
When someone is just getting by, asking them to pay more on anything, even priority items like preserving the Salish Sea and reversing the effects of global warming—well, it’s asking quite a bit.

—Eric Potter, Bellingham

Red ink Republicans

When the actress Lucille Ball was accused of being a communist during the McCarthy red-scare era of the 1950s, her husband Desi Arnez said, “The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that’s not real.” Back then, “red” was associated with the left, with communism (as in the above-noted “red scare”), and “Red China,” “better dead than Red,” etc.
Somebody more recently dubbed the Democrats blue and the Republicans red, which seriously confused me. I’d have to register the color reference and consciously un-associate “red” from the left and assign it to the right.
But now I don’t have that problem any more.
The Republicans are “red” because of the massive red-ink deficit they’re running up.
For years and years Republicans railed—and I thought with good cause—about the federal debt. But as soon as they get control, boom!, huge red-ink deficits.
So you have to think, they never really cared about the deficit at all; they are unprincipled.

—Daniel Warner, Bellingham

Register, then vote

Why vote? Movements have always driven this country toward a more perfect union.
Look at the 15th and 19th Amendments—the right to vote for previously enslaved black men and the right to vote for women were hard fought for many decades before they became the law of the land. Yes, all true, but we live in a representative, democratic republic. Amendments must be ratified by three-quarters of the states. White men voted to allow black men to vote and men voted for women’s right to vote. They were pushed by the movements but their votes decided the outcome.
Now, more than ever, passionate movements are spurred by the lack of true equality for minority and  marginalized communities, inequities in the workplace, inaction in the face of droughts, floods and other impacts of climate change, crumbling infrastructure, an unjust criminal justice system, the list goes on almost endlessly. These movements are necessary to bring attention to issues of great importance and to give our elected officials a sense of urgency in their resolution. They don’t get resolved by the movement alone.
Elected representatives from the school board to the presidency change our lives in ways we can’t imagine if we don’t pay attention. Even decisions made in the courts by federal judges who are appointed by elected officials, rely on us to vote for representatives who will choose well. Prosecutors who have tremendous power need to be fully vetted by the electorate, in other words, us. Candidate forums are a great way to learn about them.
Now that it’s clear how important it is to vote—register, then vote. Have you moved or changed your name? Check your registration and make the needed changes. You can do it online or in person at the Auditor’s office or at a local event or venue that has voter registration. Check out the League of Women Voters for locations. They have booths or tables at various venues. It’s easy in Washington to register online 
Local, state and national legislators decide what happens to us. We need to pick good ones. It’s up to us.

—Elaine Hornal, Bellingham

It’s simple math

At last, we have a chance to vote for someone who understands how our economy works, and more!
Sharon Shewmake is running for position 2 in the 42nd Legislative District of Whatcom County. As an economist she knows that starving our schools of the funding they need does not build a prosperous future, nor does ignoring aging infrastructure, ruining the environment, hoping climate change will go away. Sharon is an economist, educator, mother and union member. She is forward thinking with practical ideas for solutions to the issues we face and must address now. And she is enthusiastic about our future.
On the contrary, her opponent, Republican incumbent Rep. Vincent Buys, resists and obstructs change.
Out of 98 representatives he was one of just five voting against protecting an open internet in Washington state during this year’s legislative session. He was also completely out of step as one of just 10 opposing improved access to mental health services for children and youth.  He has voted against raising the minimum wage, against removing toxic chemicals from food packaging, against protecting our waters from the escape of non-native fish from fish farms, against equal pay and against a common sense bill to ban accessory bump stocks whose only purpose is to enhance the fire power of assault weapons. This is not the kind of representation we need. 
We have a fantastic opportunity to elect a representative who really gets it.  I hope you will join me in voting for Sharon Shewmake this November. 

—Meredith Moench, Lummi Island

Time for positive change

It is time for positive change. We need someone who honors and respects our immigrant and Native communities. Someone who will support our schools and families. Someone who loves our natural beauty and will protect our lands and water.
Pinky Vargas is that candidate.
Doug Ericksen does not represent us. His effusive support of current President Trump’s divisive, corrupt and spendthrift politics is not what our 42nd District values. The “me first, who cares about anyone else” attitude is not what built Whatcom County.
Please join me and vote for our future.
Vote Pinky Vargas for Senator in Washington’s 42nd Legislative District.

—Pam Gould, Lummi Island

Logging prevents forest fires

Our forests are burning out of control. Why do they burn when for many decades we had the fires under control? Maybe we should look at the causes.
Many liberals believed it would be a great idea to prohibit further logging, logging roads, or trails being built in our forests, both state and local. Those roads served as firebreaks and served as immediate access in the event of a fire.
Then the liberals thought it would be brilliant to prohibit any logging in these forests. This of course allowed huge debris piles of limbs, trees, needles, etc. to build up on the forest floor. Now we have many feet of debris on the forest floor acting as kindling for a future fire, started by either man or God (lightning).
In addition, our forests should be managed. They will be managed either by God (forest fires) or by man (logging and harvesting) to add to our state tax base. In short, forests are an asset to be managed and utilized for taxpayer benefit or they are smoke we breathe. Now another great asset of our state and nation is being ruined.
Representative Vincent Buys supports forest management and fire-wise programs. These are solutions to our forest fire problems. Vote Buys and save our forests and our clean air.

—Bill Henshaw, Bellingham

Honor, courage, values

Honor, courage and commitment are three traditional values the United States Navy instills in the heart of every recruit. They are the key elements of leadership I developed as a Naval officer, now retired, and values I look for in those representing me.
This November, I’m voting for the middle class to keep more of their hard-earned money by saying No to a state income tax. I’m voting to protect our 2nd Amendment rights and all other Constitutional rights. I’m voting for effective and efficient government, a government that works.
Because they continue to serve us with honor, courage and commitment, and because they stand for up for folks like me, I am proudly voting for Representatives Luanne Van Werven and Vincent Buys when I receive my ballot in the mail.

—Kathy Kershner, Lynden

Change needed in prosecutors office

A recent magazine article about prosecutors was headlined “The Most Powerful Elected Officials You’ve Never Heard Of.” On Nov. 6, Whatcom County will elect its first new prosecutor in more than four decades. It’s likely our most important choice on the ballot.
In a nationwide poll nearly nine of 10 people, regardless of party affiliation, said it was important to have a prosecutor who prioritizes alternatives to incarceration and commits to transparency in sharing data and policies with the public.
This is the platform James Erb has been promoting since he announced his intention to run for the office—before the current prosecutor said he wouldn’t seek reelection.
The prosecutor’s office has consistently touted its expertise at prosecuting serious crime. However, recently the office admitted in a court brief that it “failed in its discovery obligations in a myriad of ways.”
Little has been done to reduce incarceration. The office has promoted the building of an even larger jail. And the drug court has been underutilized and doesn’t follow nationwide best practices.
Erb’s opponent has been embedded in that office for 25 years. Though he now talks of more progressive practices, one wonders why he supported the current policies and practices all of those years. Furthermore, even if he’s sincere in his desire to modernize the office, how successful will he be changing a culture that he has supported for so long?
The prosecutor’s office is the largest law firm in Whatcom County, dealing with civil as well as criminal law, and Erb’s opponent has no experience in civil law. Erb has civil and criminal law experience in three separate jurisdictions.
The choice on Nov. 6 is clear.
If you want real change, elect James Erb as Whatcom County Prosecutor.

—Chuck Robinson, Lynden

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