Letters to the Editor, Week of March 22, 2023
March 22, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.
On Feb. 1, CDN took a huge journalistic credibility risk by bravely posting my letter to the editor repeating a “rumor” Congressman Larsen, in his recent visit to the new Corvus Energy facility in Fairhaven, was handing out additional, but separate, achievement awards to some selected public officials.
The rumor was that Mike Lilliquist and Mayor Fleetwood were to be the additional honorees.
Mr. Lilliquist was supposed to receive Congressman Larsen’s coveted “You Almost Got It Right” award for his part of the purchase of a bunch of “all” electric buses, which turned out to be “well, mostly” electric buses.
Mayor Fleetwood and the whole city council were to receive the “Excellence in Execution Award” for spending more than $8 million and seven years on the poop plant “Research and Development” project.
Weeks went by with no public announcement of the awards, so as an interested citizen, I felt compelled to follow up on this important topic.
Therefore, I once again contacted my source at the Stones Throw Brewery. After the source was loosened up, and we both had consumed several pints of the Clark’s Point IPA, the rumor on the street came out that neither of these gentlemen had received their award certificate.
Not only that, but my source told me that in response to this injustice, the city council had authorized the formation of a task force composed of 25 citizens, (carefully selected to ensure inclusivity, of course) to do some investigation.
After lots of closed-door meetings with subpoenas sent to some of the town's more outspoken Republicans, the eventual findings of the task force were revealed.
It turned out that the certificates had been found buried under an 8-foot-high pile of undelivered mail in the back room of the Ferndale Post Office by the night janitor. They were subsequently returned to Congressman Larsen’s office stamped “insufficient postage.”
This week’s article on the state of the Whatcom County Jail really hit home to me. I came to Bellingham in 1993, and even back then, there was spirited discussion about the need for a new jail. Now 30 years have passed, and I’ve watched while the jail has not been replaced, despite almost universal agreement that it needs to be. It is a crumbling, inadequate relic, and it’s getting worse by the day.
County councils have had decades to act on this problem but have failed to deal with a jail that’s a danger to inmates and staff alike. Voters have turned down ballot issues that would fund its replacement. Overcrowding has resulted in “booking restrictions,” meaning that for lack of jail space, offenders have been turned back onto the streets, and crime downtown has soared. And we have a jail that would disgrace the Black Hole of Calcutta.
So Whatcom County residents, stop wringing your hands and clutching your pearls. You have exactly what you've wanted: county councils that fail to address one of the most important issues of the last 30 years, and a jail that will be consumed by mold in the near future. You think a new jail would be expensive? Wait until the ACLU slaps a lawsuit on the county for inhumane conditions at the jail, and see how much it costs the taxpayers.
Twenty years ago, the Bush administration, with overwhelming bipartisan support, relied on a litany of lies to launch a devastating invasion of Iraq.
The day after the invasion began, then-senator Biden told CNN:
“There's a lot of us who voted for giving [President Bush] the authority to take down Saddam Hussein if he didn't disarm. And […] even though it wasn't handled all that well, we still have to take him down.”
Twenty years later, no one has been held accountable for the lies, duplicity, torture, indescribable destruction and hundreds of thousands of lives lost in Iraq. Worse, with a stunning (yet predictable) lack of self-awareness, our political and intellectual “leaders” have the gall to encourage other countries to “renew our commitment to accountability [and] to the rule of law” (Vice-President Harris at the Munich Security Conference) or wring their hands and lament, “How do we deal with a superpower led by a war criminal?” (Thomas Friedman, in The New York Times) — and yet very serious people do not erupt in jeers and bitter laughter.
The painful truth is that we could understand ourselves most clearly if we applied to ourselves the same standards that we apply to others (especially to our official enemies) — and that pain is perhaps the reason why those who insist on doing so are ostracized throughout history.
Just like those Russians who oppose the invasion of Ukraine, reining in our governments’ propensity for violence always has been, and always will be, up to us.
Whatcom Peace and Justice Center
Brokedown Palace, a legacy forest, exists on the south side of the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River, just downstream of the recent dam removal project that opened up miles of salmon habitat. Logging here would likely damage salmon habitat after millions have been spent to aid salmon populations.
This forest is managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and its Commissioner Hilary Franz; both state their commitment to climate-focused action in our state. Clearcutting forests like these — biodiverse, carbon sequestering and resilient — should be the last thing a climate-forward agency would allow. Brokedown Palace is one of a few remaining legacy forests making up a fraction of the total land DNR manages.
The climate crisis experienced here in Whatcom through flooding, low river waters, dwindling salmon populations, as well as high summer temperatures, suggests we must engage in climate protection measures. This is precisely what would be done in preserving Brokedown Palace while getting wood products through logging forests already converted into “plantation forests,” replanted with only Douglas Fir to maximize future profit. There are sustainable and emerging ways to manage plantation forests that encourage healthier ecosystems and economies. Please encourage DNR and Hilary Franz to take a stand for such important ecosystems.
In 2012 I started FiXCO which is now the last independent phone and computer repair shop in our community. I have been working with “The Right to Repair” movement for a few years now.
Every day, customers walk in my door in crisis mode. A mom with a broken phone who can’t reach her kids, a business operator who can’t communicate with clients, or people who work in the health care industry who have to take time off because their job relies on a working device. They bring their devices to me, and I fix them if possible. If I can’t, it’s due to a lack of manufacturer parts, a design that doesn't allow for repair, (as with Apple computers over the last few years), or software locks that disable features because of aftermarket parts.
The people who require my services reside on all levels of class, political, gender, ethnic and professional spectrums. This issue directly affects all of us. Most of us rely upon these devices every day. It’s not just electronics that have become harder to repair. [So have] appliances, cars, tractors, home gadgets, etc. The examples are endless.
Planned obsolescence has been the way these giants do business for the last few decades. We used to take joy in repairing our things and figuring out how they worked instead of throwing them out.
These bills are currently active across the country: Washington HB 1392 passed the House. The Senate has until March 29 to pass it out of committee.
The throwaway culture these predatory business practices create will grow exponentially if we don’t reverse course. We should be able to choose how we fix the stuff we supposedly own. Call your Washington state senators. Tell them to pass The Fair Repair Act.
An independent candidate for president in 2024 wants to form a federal Department of Love. OK. So how’s that work? In America, if you want to grow something, then declare war on it. We had a war on poverty, and got more poverty. War on drugs, ditto. War on terror, duh! Sadly, the only problem is, this is one war the haters would love to win. No matter how many citizens they need to sacrifice to keep living their convenient fictions?
John C. Ruth