Wally Wonders Why

No editor, no publisher, you get what you get

Bellingham Herald

It’s the water, and a lot more

That’s what we got up in Ferndale during the last year, water and a whole lot more.  That is a lot of minerals, scale, bad taste, maybe some manganese, calcium…a lot like Olympia bear of old, but better tasting than that tin can beer of yesteryear for sure.   I live in Ferndale, though not Ferndale proper so I get the city water but can’t vote for or against those who make the decision about what water is delivered to my tap.

I’ve wished that I had the time to write a proper blog post, but as of mid last week I hadn’t yet found the time.  So when I read that Ralph Schwartz was in the midst of writing an article for the Herald I contacted him to make sure a couple of the point I wanted to make would be in the article.  From talking with Mr. Schwartz I got the impressions that he had done an investigation into the causes of our current situation and that the City of Ferndale had realized that they needed a different engineering firm due to the failings of the firm that had set up the system.   I read the article today and I was disappointed to read that I was apparently wrong on both impressions.  The article Ferndale officials never saw water problems coming was so fluffy that it may have well been written by the City of Ferndale.  And the way my part came off was that I was more worried about my coffee pot than the health and well being of my fellow citizens…ok well if you know me that isn’t that farfetched, but I do stand more worried about my fellow water drinking citizens than my sticky kitchen faucet.
The City of Ferndale did make a mess of the situation and I can see a lot of red flags that were overlooked or underplayed leading up to our mess.  I won’t delve into conspiracy theories like the good water going to wash down coal dust at the new terminal or the mayor with a plumbing firm creating this mess to increase business.   I don’t hold any person or firm up as a not wanting to do the right thing.  I do think that all of the red flags need to be looked at to make sure we don’t make the same mistake again.  What I want to do, since I don’t have time to do a proper post is to start this post as a listing of things that I find, or have found that pertain to our our current situation.  

I’ve got about 15 different points that range from why the water problem should have been expected, to how hardness effects cooking, to additional consumer costs from hard water and even to the dance that is being played with our health.   I will be updating the list with more and more points as I find the time to write the little bits.

Point 1 and I’ll start the bar pretty low.  There is more in the water than just bad taste and if you made your own pizza dough you would know that.  Even if you let your water stand to let any residual chlorine off gas, hard water will still toughen the dough and increase rising times.

Point 2 – Often when things don’t turn out as planned, people start pointing fingers.  Sometimes they point to blame and sometimes they point to avoid blame.   Such is the case with Ferndale’s new well water. 

The consultants have been pressed to explain why the water has been so much harder after the switch. It could have to do with the unusually dry summer and greater-than-usual water use by farmers, they said at a Sept. 17 council meeting.

Bellingham Herald: Ferndale officials never saw water problems coming

I was at that City Council meeting.  While the council and many others were murmuring their agreement with the RH2 representative pointing fingers at the dry summer I was Googling precipitation figures because even though we had had a few recent hot days, I had no recollection of an overall  long dry summer.  As it turned out, when I looked at the rainfall for the 6 month period leading up to the dry summer comment, I found that 2012 was one of the wettest periods in the last decade only to be bested by 2011.  Capture 6 month accumulated precipitation leading up to Sept meeting So why point fingers at the dry summer?   Because the dry summer, if it existed, was an easy target.  It couldn’t defend itself and it could point back at anyone leaving the finger pointers safe from blame.  However, if the dry summer had fingers, I’d guess they’d be pointing their middle ones at RH2 and the City of Ferndale. 

The people of Ferndale need the problem solved and the first step to finding a solution involves accurately assessing the problem and it’s causes, not finger pointing.  

Point 3 –  The Herald article I referenced above is titled Ferndale officials never saw water problems coming and I wonder why not?   In the article the City of Ferndale says they didn’t expect water this hard and their engineering firm RH2 says they weren’t looking for it.  So, why not look at water hardness when making a major change from river water to well water?  You don’t refinance a home and not have an expectation of what the new interest rate will be and you certainly expect your home loan specialist to look at the rate. Why not have the same type of expectations when you are restructuring your water supply?

It’s seems almost inconceivable that the City didn’t really have expectations for water hardness, but it’s conceivable to me that an engineering firm, which is trying to make a profit, would try to do the minimum required in order to minimize costs and maximize profits.  So I wondered what the City really asked for and I wondered what RH2 really looked for?  That question led me to a pilot study that the City of Ferndale contracted with RH2 in October of 2009, just after RH2 presented the results of their feasibility projectRH2 deliverables Calcium and magnesium are the major players in water hardness so it appears the City, whether they knew it or not, was looking for hardness.   And if RH2 delivered on the deliverables then they were looking for hardness whether they admit it or not.   Obviously I wondered what the results were of the testing and comparison to previous reports, but I couldn’t locate them online.  I just sent off a public record request to the City of Ferndale for these deliverables so we will see shortly what the City of Ferndale and RH2 could have known about potential hardness issues.  Meanwhile Point 4 will certainly be written before the public records are available and it will point to a couple of red flags waving over the hardness issue from long  before the pilot study.

Point 4 – Red flags waving in the wind.  The introduction to the City of Ferndale Water Supply Feasibility Report contains this chart, so I would assume the Mayor, the City Council and all other decision makers would have studied it prior to their decision making.  capture feasability chart This chart show the state of the water coming out of the ground at both wells that we are now receiving water from.  This represents the water in it raw untreated state and would be used in decision making about what types of treatments would be needed. 

Red Flag One – Which numbers go with which well?  are they combined?  Oh, well maybe it’s the first two columns for Douglas and the second two…OK, that’s not really a red flag, but WTH why not label things.   BTW I found the same chart in the appendix and the first two measurement columns are from the Douglas Well and the other two are from the Shop Well.   The actual first red flag, in this chart depicting levels of contaminants of concern, was the absence of magnesium and calcium from the chart.  Were the major players in water hardness not tested or were they not presented and in either case, why not?

Red Flag Two – Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) There apparently was a lot more stuff in the water back in 94 and 99 then there was in 07 and oddly both wells were over the limit and now they are not.  In the case of the Shop Well the newer reading is about half of the older which should be a red flag all on it’s own.

High TDS may indicate hard water, which causes scale buildup in pipes and valves, inhibiting performance. Since TDS is related to water hardness, using a TDS meter can be your first step in determining the degree of hardness of the water. Generally speaking, the higher the level of TDS (ppm), the higher the degree of hardness.

Premier Water Test Instruments

Red Flag Three – TDS again.  TDS is related to water hardness, but because not all of the things in the water contribute to directly to hardness, there is no exact correlation, but the correlation is pretty darn close.   The following chart is from Xylem, a company that deals with water quality issues and it gives a pretty clear indication that the water supply was in the Hard to Very Hard range.  Oh, and those aren’t water temps in the 3rd column, they are French degrees which is a way of measuring hardness.

Capture hardness conductivity tds

Red Flag Four – Conductivity.  It’s the stuff in the water that conducts electricity, not the water itself and a couple of the biggest movers in this department are our hardness favorites, magnesium & calcium.  So looking back at the data we see numbers from 504 on up to 948 which clearly lands our raw well water in the upper end of the hardness range with our primary well, the Douglas Well, in the Hard/Very Hard category. 

Between TDS and conductivity, if City officials didn’t see the hard water issue coming down the pike then they weren’t paying attention.

Point 5  – Sodium – Sodium and Chloride go hand in hand.  What we normally call “salt” is actually sodium chloride (NaCl) and when dissolved in water its splits apart into sodium and chloride.   There are other contributors of chlorides in well water, but sodium chloride salt is the big contributor.  If you look back a couple of charts you will see that both sodium and chloride are present in higher levels.  The chlorides are also a bit of a red flag not because of the overall level being harmful, but because in the primary Douglas Well the 1994 level was 175 and in 2007 it was 56.  One reason why we should care about this was actually pointed out very nicely by RH2 in their report to the city. 

the level of chloride indicating saltwater intrusion is 100 mg/l.  The Douglas Well was measured to have Chloride levels of 175 mg/l in 1994 and 56 mg/l in March 2007.  The Shop Well has chlorides present as well, but they are lower than 100 mg/l.  However, the conductivity and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) levels are high enough to present some concern.  It is obvious that there is influence from a source of salts in both of these wells.
The DOH will most likely require frequent monitoring of chlorides if these wells are placed into service.  And if chlorides do rise over the threshold of 100 mg/l, there use may be reduced or curtailed seasonally so that seawater intrusion is reduced.

“curtailed seasonally” means that the well may be unusable to us at certain times of the year because it is being refilled with saltwater from Puget Sound rather than fresh water from our NW rains and mountain snow.  What this also means is that to maximize output from the wells the sodium levels in our water will always be an issue.  Couple that high sodium water with hard water and you have a potentially serious health issue for some Ferndale residents.

For normal, healthy persons, the amount of sodium in drinking water is a minor contribution to their total dietary intake of sodium. However, for those people who must restrict their salt intake to control certain medical conditions, sodium in drinking water can be a major concern. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a recommended concentration of 20 milligrams per liter (mg/1).

South Carolina Department of Health

RH2 appeared to be on top of this issue and even referenced the EPA 20 mg/l number as guideline level, but I’ve yet to see any commitment to hitting that number 20 mg/l versus riding the 100 mg/l well shutdown level.  

As a consumer we should all be worried about high sodium levels in our water, but we should be doubly or triply concerned if the City delivers high sodium water and chooses not to treat the hardness issue at the system level, leaving the individual consumer to deal with the hardness.   Typical home water softening systems work by swapping our hard water friends calcium and magnesium for….wait for it… wait for it…sodium.   Yes, if you treat your already sodium rich hard water at home you are probably adding even more sodium in the process and the harder your water, the more sodium you will be adding. 

If you’re on a diet that calls for very little sodium and you’re concerned about the amount of sodium in your softened water, talk with your doctor. He or she may suggest testing the sodium concentration of your water or switching to a type of water-purification system that doesn’t replace magnesium and calcium with sodium.

Mayo Clinic

It’s true that compared to a Big Mac the amount of sodium we might have in a glass of treated water might seem like very little, but stopping at a fast food joint is a bit more of conscious choice than turning on the kitchen sink.  And having high sodium water in your home means that you will be hit with a constant unending barrage of additional sodium.  Sodium water, sodium coffee, sodium Kool-aid, sodium water for cooking, sodium ice cubes, there will be no getting away from it, so even the small amount will continue to add up.

Research shows a dose-dependent relationship between consuming too much salt and elevated blood pressure. When salt intake is reduced, blood pressure begins decreasing for most people within a few days to weeks. Populations who consume diets low in salt do not experience the increase in blood pressure with age that is seen in most Western countries.

CDC – Center fro Disease Control and Prevention

We have already switched to the 3 gallon refillable water jugs at Haggen, but so far that is used mostly for drinking.  We may need to upgrade to 5 gallon jugs unless the City of Ferndale treats our hard sodium rich water at the system level.  Anything less than that is what I would consider a step backwards.

Point 6 – Is the solution really that simple? Wait and see.

Burwell and City Council member Jon Mutchler have both said the solution is simple. Owners of appliances should follow recommendations for how often to clean and maintain them, to avoid stains or potentially damaging mineral buildup.

"There are many municipalities across the country that have much harder water than we do, and they live with it," Mutchler said in a Dec. 20 interview.

Bellingham Herald: Ferndale officials never saw water problems coming

Is it Money or What?

bnsfCheck Below for recent Updates

 

Original Post from July 31, 2012

It’s got to be something that keeps the Bellingham Herald referring to the City of Bellingham Initiative No. 2012-2 concerning the people’s right of self-government as “coal train initiative” or the “No Coal! initiative” as they just did in their article BNSF joins legal case against Bellingham coal train initiative.

John Stark wrote that article and another article last month where he also referred to the initiative as the “no-coal-train initiative” and “Coal-Free Bellingham initiative” so perhaps the money or what could be a John Stark bias?  Maybe?  Maybe the Herald stands to lose a little advertising revenue from irate hamsters if they actually call the initiative for what it is; a proposal to radically depart from our normal way of governing.

So is it money or what?  I don’t really know, but as long as the local media keeps failing in their duty to the public and keeps playing into the hands of the Bellingham Bill of Rights folks, the dollars to sort out the mess is going to keep adding up for we the taxpayers.  On the other hand, if the Herald actually served their readers with untainted information, this initiative would likely die a sudden death from lack of public support.  Instead, this initiative drive enjoys continued wide public support because the Herald and the Bellingham Bill of Rights people continue to widely market this as a no coal initiative.

What?  You still believe this is about coal trains running through Bellingham?  Sorry, but you’re among those who have been mislead.  If this were just about coal trains running through Bellingham then the initiative might read something like this,

BALLOT TITLE FOR CITY OF BELLINGHAM INITIATIVE No. 2012-2
City of Bellingham Initiative No. 2012-2 prohibits railroads from transporting coal in the City.
“Should this measure be enacted into law?” Yes?______ No?______

Instead the initiative actually reads like this,

exact language

That’s right a true anti-coal train initiative would have one point, banning coal trains, but this initiative has about 10 points with only one of them being the transport of coal.

  1. concerns the people’s right of self-government
  2. This measure would establish the sovereignty of Bellingham residents
  3. the rights of natural communities
  4. rights to a sustainable energy future and a healthy climate;
  5. prohibit corporations from transporting coal in the City;
  6. deny legal personhood and constitutional rights to corporate violators
  7. deny the use of federal and state preemptive law to corporate violators;
  8. deny the validity of contrary permits;
  9. authorize private party civil enforcement actions
  10. repeal all inconsistent provisions of existing City ordinances

 

So if transporting coal is only one of ten points, then why doesn’t the Herald refer to this initiative by one of the other nine points like the Bellingham Sovereignty Initiative, Right to Sustainable Energy Future Initiative, or the People’s Right to Self-Government Initiative?   Again, I don’t know if it is it money or what?

What?  Even after reading the initiative, you still don’t believe that this isn’t about coal trains?  Would you believe it if you heard it straight from the horses mouth?  You can if you want.  In fact Stoney Bird, a retired corporate lawyer on the steering committee for Coal Free Bellingham, who is proposing the initiative, was just on The Joe Show earlier in the week.  Among much legal ramblings and rantings he had these telling words.

And I’m really optomistic about its getting on the ballot, the cities claims against this initiative really focus on one part of the initiative which is the ban on coal trains, there’s much more in it, the whole Bill of Rights, is is goes beyond that.

if you look at it, what,  the core of this initiative is the bill of rights

Stoney Bird  – KGMI Podcasts – The Joe Show 7/30/12

So if both the initiative and it’s authors say this isn’t about coal, then why does the Bellingham Herald?   Is it Money or What?  Who are they beholding to?

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Update for August 4th

And they”re still at it.  Judge Snyder reinforced that the initiative is about restructuring government, rather than about banning coal transport, when he ruled that the initiative cannot be put on the ballot because the "initiative exceeded the scope of city government’s power and would have, among other things, attempted to nullify state and federal laws." Yet the Bellingham Herald still headlined this as an "Anti-coal initiative" and described it as an "initiative that would have blocked the transport of coal through Bellingham will not be on the November ballot in Whatcom County."

Update for August 6th,

Which Bellingham Herald poll results will they go with?  Will they use the set of results you see after you take the poll? Or will they use the set of results you see when you click “See how you Compare” link?  The first shows more city residents supporting the initiative while the second shows an opposite result with more city residents opposing.

Compare

Updated again for August 6th,

Listened to Natalie McClendon on the 8/6/12Joe Show podcast this afternoon and when Joe asked her what she thought of the Initiative/Bellingham Bill of Rights, she responded that her first impression had been that she was reading a declaration of independence.  As Joe chuckled he threw in a secessionist comment that went along the line of if Texas can secede the why not Bellingham.  The point of this is that the initiative and the Bellingham Bill of Rights are also recognized by former chair of Whatcom Democrats and local progress talk show host as not really about Coal, so why doesn’t the Bellingham Herald?  Is it Money or What?

Updated one more time on August 16th

and one more time

The Herald Politics Blog titles a post Rally planned for August 31 in favor of public vote on anti-coal-train initiative giving us yet one more example of misrepresenting the initiative to the people as a Coal issue.  Don’t bother to think about this being put on by the local Socialist Alternative group, the Bellingham Bill of Rights people still calling themselves Coal Free Bellingham in spite themselves saying this is not about coal, and Decolonize Whatcom who are really the ReOccupy crowd which I believe gave us the guy who disrupted the County council meeting with a mic check.

 

And yet another update on August 17th.  Wow has it been only one day?

down to the wire 

It took just one more day/article for the Herald to refer to the Bellingham Bill of Rights initiative as the “no-coal measure” and the “no-coal-train initiative.”   The article State appeals court to hear Bellingham no-coal measure continues the push to get the measure on the ballot as some kind of popularity poll.  Although the results of the poll would be inaccurate because with the efforts of the group and the Herald, people believe they are voting against coal trains when they are in fact voting against our proven system of government.

"The point is to get (the no-coal initiative) on the ballot, and then the powers that be begin to understand where the wind’s blowing," Bird said.

The “powers that be” (and I hate that lame cop out phrase) are all the voters in our state and nation.  That includes the people of Bellingham, but they are a small minority of the people of Washington and the people of the US. who actually are in control of transport of goods (coal and otherwise).   It’s in our US Constitution.  it’s Article1, Section 8, Clause 3.  It’s called the Commerce Clause because it reserves for the federal government, exclusive power over trade between states, foreign nations and Indian tribes.  We the people of the United States are the “powers that be” to which Stoney Bird refers.  The people of Bellingham have the same rights, the same representation, and the same power as anyone else in out nation to control the flow of coal trains.  I don’t know what the Bellingham Herald hopes to gain by conspiring with Stoney Bird’s separatists to take rights, representation and power from US citizens, but making enemies is no way to sell papers.

 

It’s Official!  One more headline on August 28th claiming this initiative to be about coal trains.

Capture it is official I won’t deny that in another portion of the article they did refer to this as also about the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights, but the headline and opening sentence are what they are, which is deceptive regarding the true nature of the initiative. 

 

Place Holder for next Update about the Herald referring to this as a Coal thing

Bellingham “Alarmist” Herald

oil spill There is a  is a vessel in Bellingham being fitted to contain and clean up huge oil spills in Arctic waters, but right now it is sitting in Bellingham Bay with spill containment booms surrounding it.   And leave it to the Bellingham Herald to support the Bellingham alarmist attitude with their own front page alarmist billing.  

Really, what kind of image comes to mind when you read there headline “Oil-containment barge under construction in Bellingham spills oil”  I know when I read it, my immediate thought was of how much oil was filling that containment barge and how much of it was spilling.   I’m sure a lot of people were thinking about the Deep Horizon Spill as well as a few in Bellingham that were thinking about coal..ya know oil and coal are both carbon based.  I was also thinking about how yucky and stinky it might be if the forecast of super hot weather turned out to be accurate. 

Whatever your initial thought, I think the headline made it sound pretty bad, so it was a little surprising to learn that this headline is over 3 quarts of oil that they supposedly spilled over the course of the last 3 weeks or so?  Okay now, that really is alarmist…3 quarts!

Three spills, each releasing about one quart of oil into Whatcom Waterway, came from leaks in pressurized hydraulic systems on July 24, and Aug. 4 and 6.

Bellingham Herald

I’m not suggesting that it’s a good thing to spill a quart, or even three quarts, of oil into Bellingham Bay but let’s keep this in perspective.   The way I see this big picture is that this is only 3 quarts and the sooner this ship is on station in the Arctic, the better the odds are that it will be there to clean up a lot more than 3 quarts of oil should it be called to a spill.   So why hassle them over 3 quarts?  Well the State Department of Ecology had an answer,

"They’re a quart at a time, but every time there’s a spill there’s more environmental damage," Ecology spokeswoman Katie Skipper said.

Bellingham Herald

Wow!  Every time there is a quart spill there’s more environmental damage,  Wow again, where do we draw the line on how little of a spill is too little of a spill and how little of a spill does it take to call this harassment rather than enforcement?  I wonder if anyone in the Dept of Ecology realizes that oil occurs naturally in our oceans and in fact about half the oil in the oceans come from naturally occurring sources.  This is one of my favorites, it is a great historical description of naturally occurring crude oil along the West coast.

Pedro Fages, a Spanish explorer and military commander of the Monterey Presidio, in his report to the Viceroy of New Spain recorded the use of tar and oil by the natives near Mission San Luis Obispo. Fages’ account, written in 1775, mentions natives using tar for water- proofing baskets and pitchers and for caulking small boats. Fages also noted ” … pools of bitumen bubbling out of the ground” near the mouth of the Santa Clara River. In 1776, Spanish missionary Pedro Font recorded that “… much tar which the sea throws up is found on the shores, sticking to the stones and dry, little balls of tar are also found. Perhaps there are springs of it which flow out into the sea.” In 1793, during the travels of English explorer James Cook, his navigator, George Vancouver, recorded in his journal that they had anchored off of Goleta. Vancouver reported that the sea was “… covered with a thick, slimy substance, which, when separated or disturbed by any little agitation, became very luminous, whilst the slightest breeze, that came principally from onshore, brought with it a very strong scent of burning tar.” He continued that “… the sea had the appearance of dissolved tar floating on its surface, which covered the ocean in all directions within the limits of our view.”  www.mms.gov

So again…3 quarts?  If that is a crime then watch out on these upcoming hot sunny days because you never know how soon it will be until your kids, slathered with sunscreen, are slapped with a cease and desist order by our State Department of Ecology when they go wading in Bellingham Bay?

Sunscreens are a great way to prevent some of these harms, but unless you pick the right sunscreen it might be doing more harm than good, exposing you to even more health concerns while contaminating fish and water.

justlivegreener.com

If you think that I am crazy or that I am just being alarmist, think about the thousands of people with just a little dab of sunscreen and remember what the Department of Ecology spokesperson said, “every time there’s a spill there’s more environmental damage.” 

Is It Mine?

capture property rights Property Rights, the Environment and Growth Management are a few of the buzz topics in the current election season and as such, the Bellingham Herald apparently chose that angle when they covered the recent Tea Party Candidate Forum.  In that article they contrasted the current State Reps for the 42nd District, Vince Buys & Jason Overstreet with their challengers for office, Natalie McClendon & Matt Krogh.

People do tend to wrap the environment in with growth management, but both are really property rights issues and on property rights there is a stark contrast between these pairs of candidates.   To understand the contrast you need to understand the property rights issue.

The property rights issue isn’t about anyone wanting to damage, pollute or harm the environment.  The property rights issue is simply about you getting to decide what is the best use of your property, as opposed to others deciding how your property will best serve the community.   That’s the crux of the property rights debate; who is in control of your property, you or the government.

At the forum, when the challengers Natalie McClendon & Matt Krogh, addressed government regulatory control of private land it was pretty evident which side of the property rights issue they land on.

“Land use regulations should be imposed or amended in a way that benefits the community.”

“The goal is the public good,”

“He agreed that private property rights should be respected, but he stressed the importance of  protecting the quality of life in Washington state…

Bellingham Herald

I guess I am in stark contrast to their way of thinking also, because my home is not a charitable contribution for the public good of the community, nor did I work to purchase my home with the intent to protect the quality of life in our state.   We just wanted a place to live.   The problem with intangible ideas like public good and quality of life is that they are often defined by public vote, committee or worse, by a non-elected non-governmental organization.  Then, shortly thereafter those definitions are put into regulation and the government enforces their control over your property use.  It’s usually not even in big ways that really jump out at you, it’s more often in small subtle ways.

Take this recent example happening in the streets of Ferndale.  A year ago land owners along some portions of Main Street could have decided to plant a few of their favorite trees in their front yard near the road and they would have had  every right to do so.  This year however, they have found that the city has seized that portion of their property from them, bulldozed it, widened the road, and then landscaped along their much smaller front yard as the city  saw fit.

Ferndale may need to go to court to assert its authority to move forward with the $4.3 million road project as a public benefit, which trumps the right of property owners to keep their land.

Bellingham Herald

I’ve sat through council meetings and I’m sure the city officials feel that what they are doing along Main Street is in the interest of public good, and that the new landscaping contributes to the quality of life for the people of Ferndale, but how is the quality of life for the homeowners who now have bike lanes and sidewalks running through what used to be their front yard?   Is that vision the homeowners had for their property when they purchased it?  Is it their vision now?   Barring any safety issues, how is it that governments like the City of Ferndale feel they have the power to “trump” your property as a property owner?  It’s the people we elect and send to Olympia to make laws.

Do you want representatives such as Natalie McClendon and Matt Krogh that seem to think along the lines of the City of Ferndale?  Do you want representatives that feel that the government has first right to your property?   I don’t.  I won’t be voting for either of these people and I hope, for the sake of all of our private property, that you don’t either.

Both Vincent Buys and Jason Overstreet have my support because they have already shown a commitment to both protecting our individual right to our own property and to protecting our environment.

Rendezvous with Stupidity

One of the reasons I why I thought it was time to abandon the whole idea of a coal port was because regardless of right or wrong the battle would come at a large financial cost to Whatcom County and Bellingham.   Two recent Herald articles point out one aspect of the lunacy that comes at taxpayer expense.  On one hand we have some pretty powerful reasons why the City’s doesn’t want to waste resources putting the so called “Anti-Coal” initiative on the ballot.

“The initiative proposes  legislation that exceeds the authority of the City of Bellingham,” the suit says. “In its fundamental overriding purpose, the initiative seeks to regulate interstate commerce, the railroads, and the rights of corporations. It also declares local ordinances to be superior to federal law and state law. The City does not have the authority to pass and enforce the measures proposed. … To pass such a law would be directly contrary to state law, the state constitution, federal law, and the United States Constitution.”

via Bellingham files lawsuit to block coal train initiative | Cargo Terminal | The Bellingham Herald.

And on the other hand we have the initiative backers who don’t seem to care if the initiative is “directly contrary to state law, the state constitution, federal law, and the United States Constitution.”

BELLINGHAM – One of the leaders of the anti-coal train initiative campaign says his group will go to court to battle a city lawsuit aimed at keeping the measure off the November ballot.

Stoney Bird, the former corporate attorney named as one of the defendants in the city’s lawsuit, said he is undaunted by the seemingly overwhelming legal barriers to the initiative. As he sees it, the initiative signed by close to 10,000 people that would establish a “Community Bill of Rights” is a valid way for Bellingham citizens to determine their own environmental destiny.

Some say you can’t argue with stupid, but the reality is that the City has to argue with stupid because stupid has a lawyer.  And stupid doesn’t seem to care whether they can win, they are “undaunted by the seemingly overwhelming legal barriers.”  I wonder just how much will this little rendezvous with stupidity will cost us before it is all said and done?

 

Bellingham council seeks court challenge on no-coal-train initiative

Attention Bellingham residents!

Bellingham council seeks court challenge on no-coal-train initiative

BELLINGHAM – After Coal-Free Bellingham initiative backers turned in about 10,000 signatures for a ballot proposal that would outlaw coal trains in the city, the City Council voted to challenge the validity of the measure in court.

via Bellingham council seeks court challenge on no-coal-train initiative | Local News | The Bellingham Herald.

If you are a Bellingham resident you need to give this "Coal-Free Bellingham Initiative" your full attention before signing or supporting it because it is not really about coal.  It is really about using local anti-coal and anti-coal port sentiment to trick you into signing away your rights.

BALLOT TITLE FOR CITY OF BELLINGHAM INITIATIVE No. 2012-2
City of Bellingham Initiative No. 2012-2 concerns the people’s right of self-government. This measure would establish the sovereignty of Bellingham residents, the rights of natural communities, and rights to a sustainable energy future and a healthy climate; prohibit corporations from transporting coal in the City; deny legal personhood and constitutional rights to corporate violators; deny the use of federal and state preemptive law to corporate violators; deny the validity of contrary permits; authorize private party civil enforcement actions; and repeal all inconsistent provisions of existing City ordinances.
“Should this measure be enacted into law?” Yes?______ No?______

Did you find the word “coal” in the initiative?   Go ahead look again if you have to, it is buried right in the middle of a lot of things that are completely separate issues from either coal trains or coal ports.  I’m fairly certain that it is all these separate issues, that make up the bulk of the initiative, which give the City of Bellingham cause to challenge the initiative’s validity.  

I’d like to believe that this initiative will never actually appear on a ballot, but strange things happen in Bellingham. 

Just say no!

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