Letters for the week of January 16, 2019

Bus barn door left open

Last Tuesday, York Neighborhood Association hosted a roundtable discussion regarding Bellingham School District’s proposal to rebuild the decaying bus facility, originally built in 1956, in the York area along Whatcom Creek, on what would now be considered a critical buffer zone.
Present were approximately 30 people from a variety of professions and neighborhood groups.
Altogether this group of dedicated community members made a thoughtful proposal to move this bus headquarters to a less environmentally sensitive area—hopefully in conjunction with WTA facilities at Irongate.
Most of us feel helpless as we watch southern orca resident whales dying from human-induced pollution, and believe we have an opportunity to effect local change. District plans to upgrade the system for diesel runoff from 75 buses into the sanitary drainage, yet that also presents a challenge for filtration systems.
The Governor’s Orca Task Force has allocated $375 million for riparian remediation to storm water runoff. Perhaps we can apply for a grant,  in addition to monies allocated by school bonds and by Greenways.
York Neighborhood Association won unanimous approval from City Council in 2010 for their neighborhood plan to place that creekside into the remediated Greenways trail system, and the Meador area into affordable housing.
Let us move forward now with a viable alternative, before it’s too late. Please write your City Council and school board representatives.

—Dianne Foster, Bellingham

The biggest threat we face

We are not taking climate change seriously enough.
Current research at Yale and George Mason universities indicates the vast majority of Americans are not as worried as our dire situation warrants;  most people just aren’t that concerned about our baking Earth.
Let’s be clear: Climate change is the single biggest threat to life on this planet that we have ever faced—much greater than world wars, international conflicts, the economy, AIDS, and cancer.
It is not just another “cause of the month.” It is the cause.
Consequently, it is difficult to understand public apathy, especially on the part of people who have children, grandchildren, or young people they care about, and whose lives will be greatly impacted by this threat.
We need to look the climate monster in the eye if we are to defeat it. It feeds upon apathy, selfishness and greed.
We won’t win this battle until all hands are on deck, and we become deeply committed climate activists.
Locally we need to urge our County Council to discourage refinery expansion plans, and instead vigorously encourage our fossil fuel companies to develop clean energy alternatives. And much much more needs to be done. 
Hope is not enough—it is action by a large majority of our citizenry that will win the day. 

—Warren Sheay, Bellingham

Cruelty is the cause

There is much wailing about “the homeless”—and I am tiring of it. It has a range from “homelessness is a blight on our city” to a wringing of the hands because “we can’t do anything about it.”
Too often the wailing exhibits the severe polarization of our country. From what I can tell homelessness is a result of personal choices and/or social forces.
Some of our homeless choose to be homeless, kinda like the hobo riding the rails—life is easier to take that way.  Some seems to be due to the effect of a person’s mental/emotional state over which he or she has no good control.  And some is the result of choosing not to work and/or living beyond one’s means.
I daresay these choices account for only 25 percent of the homeless we see (or don’t see) every day on our streets.
The remaining 75 percent have been forced into homelessness because of the social (economic and political) choices we make, often every day without realizing them.
Some of these forces are taxation, property values, rents—all of which are influenced by the level of greed in the community. Others are the lack of jobs and non-living wages, often either or both are influenced by the community’s greed.  And still other forces are discrimination and its close cousin, NIMBY—Not In My BackYard, thank you.
Each one of us, instead of wailing or whining about “the homeless” must address how we individually contribute to each of these causes, and then find ways to mitigate the effects of these forces.

—James E. Weaver, Bellingham

Leopold’s heart of darkness

“Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.” 
 —John Maynard Keynes
I thought Keynes’ remark clever of capitalist behavior—I did not think for a moment that I would be living it.
It turns out the Leopold owned by an individual is concerned the returns are not what they should be. These old folks have been getting something for nothing and we cannot have that.
They may only have a little time left, but let them pay like the rest of us. These people that rented the Leopold rooms would cry and carry on about any increases, so the best solution is to remove them all without discriminating with anyone about their personal needs.
Why should the local capitalist entrepreneur put up with the nonsense of old folks not being able to afford a place to stay? Let them join the homeless if they lack the funds. It should afford some amusement to see the old man or woman begging on the street just like in the Middle East.
People were encouraged to move into the Leopold as late as a week before the decision came down that we were all to leave.
It is really a creative way to increase the rent, despite whomever it hurts. We should applaud the imaginative way of exploitation.
We all either have too much money or not enough. That is the way of all flesh, is it not?
And our local entrepreneur is going to show us all the implications—like it or not.

—J. Kaye Faulkner, Bellingham

Steel rhymes with steal

The Golfer-in-Chief, Donald Trump and self-professed deal maker, now wants his fantasy border wall to be made of steel. Caring only about how he looks on TV in the present moment, he’s apparently forgotten that in February 2018 he placed a 25 percent tariff on imported steel, resulting in domestic metal prices increasing an average of 22 percent depending on metal type (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Higher metal prices affect production costs and get passed on to consumers, with possible job losses for companies who have to compete in a global market selling their now more expensive products. General Motors has estimated the tariff’s negative impact on steel and aluminum at $1 billion.
So building a dubious wall with a more expensive product than it was a year ago is a bad deal.
Even if built, the wall is likely to experience cost overruns and be vulnerable to corrupt pricing.
Combined with retaliatory tariffs on farm products from China, the impact of the current government shutdown on workers direct and indirect, including the loss of services people depend on, Trump has shown he has a real knack for making things cost more and throwing people out of work.
Last I looked he seemed proud of that.

—Klaus Wergin, Bellingham

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