Letters for the week of September 18, 2019
Town Hall fall
The Sept. 12 Town Hall meeting of the Whatcom Planning Commission to get “public input” on the pending Cherry Point amendments was a farce. Although the doors were not supposed to open until 6pm by that time the chambers were already filled with mostly Phillips 66 employees (in uniform) plus some of their contractors. I arrived at 6pm and was the 97th person out of 150 to sign up to speak.
By 8:30pm, only 37 people (including 21 Phillips employees) had spoken: 33 all virulently against the amendments and only four in support.
Although the chair asked the audience not to applaud or heckle opposing speakers, his admonitions were ignored—both prolonging the meeting and serving to intimidate any opposition. At that point I left the meeting disgusted by the process.
If you believe what the refinery employees say, both the Phillips and BP facilities are the cleanest and safest in the world. And any oversight of their activities would not only jeopardize their production capabilities, but also the lives of all their employees. And ultimately lead their out-of-town overlords to shut down all operations and exit Whatcom County ASAP.
At least that’s the story we’re supposed to believe.
Curiously, none of the Phillips or PetroGas employees mentioned the limitations on the transshipping of unrefined products. I suspect this matters more to BP.
If the majority of the residents in Whatcom County are going to have any control over the industrial activities at Cherry Point, some variation of the proposed amendments to the county codes must be passed. If the county government lacks the expertise to oversee the reviews built into the plans, that can be remedied by the utilization of outside counsel on an as-needed basis.
Surely there are enough retired refinery chemists and engineers in our midst, plus WWU professors, who could act as objective advisors to the county government on technical issues.
In any case, we can’t allow the refineries to continue to govern themselves when it comes to matters that impact all our air, water and marine resources. And the Planning Commission needs to open their eyes and ears to more than just one side of this subject.
—Jack McBride, Bellingham
Blue is better
Blue lights welcoming incoming Western students to “make waves” are positive change from vicious Viking banners that have long heralded start to each new academic year.
The mascot was challenged as aggressive and dehumanizing when it first appeared, and during more recent racist events on campus. Still needed is learning why it matters what emblazons jerseys and bleachers, and how symbols have great power to benefit or to harm.
Every step toward inclusion and the common good, great or small, is refutation of the incivility and destructiveness so rampant today. Such understandings are among the greatest benefits that a university and public education provide.
—James Loucky, Professor of Anthropology, Western Washington University
Respond to climate change
There is no more critical issue in today’s world than the climate crisis.
Countless politicians give lip service to the climate, which—though perhaps better than ignoring it entirely—is inadequate. We must transform our governmental bodies into tools to address this existential issue.
The federal government is stuck. Mired in polarized politics and unduly swayed by fossil fuel dollars, it is unable to get anything done due to Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump and the petrochemical dollars they are protecting.
Our Washington state government is better, having (for example) passed a 100 percent clean energy bill in its last session. But the admirable goal of clean energy by 2045 is too little, too late. We need to keep pressure on our state officials.
Here in Bellingham, we have the opportunity to elect a mayor who will provide far more than lip service to the climate crisis issue.
Seth Fleetwood has a deep understanding of climate issues. He is one of a small handful of Bellinghamsters trained as Climate Reality Leaders by former president Al Gore. Seth will guide our city toward a sustainable future of clean transportation, decentralized energy, and efficient buildings—in a way nobody else can.
Part of what makes Seth the right person for the mayor’s job is his extensive experience. He has worked, tirelessly and for the right reasons, on both the County Council and City Council, not to mention various other other boards and commissions. Seth knows how to get the job done. He has built the right trust with the right people to be effective. He has an authentic track record; voters know that he is capable and will bring results.
Another piece of what makes Seth our best bet for mayor is that he is judicious. Instead of promoting ill-conceived ideas like putting ADUs indiscriminately into every neighborhood, Seth will be strategic about addressing tough issues like low-income housing. Seth will represent all of Bellingham, and make Bellingham the truly sustainable city that is its potential.
Please join me in a vote for climate action. A vote for Seth Fleetwood for mayor.
—Daniel Kirkpatrick, Bellingham
For many years I have been reading about changes to our amazing planet. I have heard Bill McKibben speak in Fairhaven, and Naomi Klein, in Seattle. I continue to choose to ride my bike, the bus, the train, and whenever possible to carpool. My Whatcom Smart Trips account lists 3,279 trips.
The past year I have been enchanted as I watch and listen to Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish student who began learning the facts of climate change when she was 7 or 8. She became depressed because no one in her family or the Swedish Parliament was “behaving in a logical way.”
Greta now is calling for a climate strike to show each other and our leaders that we must change our values and behavior for the good of our future.
So, I will be taking WTA Bus #26 and #15 to downtown Bellingham on the morning of September 20 in order to be part of the Climate Strike that is happening around the world.
Also, as I listen to candidates in the upcoming election, I will be pondering each person’s understanding of what it takes to “Unite Behind the Science” and to transform our beloved community wisely, kindly, and justly for the future of the children and the planet.
—Alyce Werkema, Lynden
Integrity and compassion count
It’s wonderful to care deeply about Bellingham and its future. Add to that 12 years of public service and leadership, a proven record of achievements for social justice, housing affordability and the environment, and you have an ideal candidate for mayor: Seth Fleetwood.
With a law degree in environmental law, proven ability to work with multiple stakeholders, and a vision for managing growth in Bellingham in a time of climate change, and Seth’s candidacy is even more appealing.
But for me, there are two attributes that put Seth over the top: compassion and integrity. Please vote for Seth Fleetwood for mayor of Bellingham.