Letters to the Editor: February 2018

The Editor:

It was good to read the progress report on the new library and let’s hope it speedily continues. We hope the request for space from the Point Roberts Food Bank and the Point Roberts Historical Society will be fully supported by the community. For the hours the dedicated volunteers put in, they deserve nothing less.

Tim and Judi Footman

Point Roberts

The Editor:

The Point Roberts Taxpayers Association was pleased to welcome Whatcom County Assessor Keith Willnauer to address the public at our January 10, 2018 meeting. Mr. Willnauer’s remarks and responses to many questions from the audience were most informative and helpful. In particular, we heard that property values are reassessed annually to reflect fair market value, based on sales of comparable Point Roberts properties and on the condition of the property.

On-site visual inspections are only performed every sixth year (unless there has been a building permit pulled for a given property). Point Roberts properties were last visited in 2016. Therefore, it is important for property owners to inform the assessor’s office of any intervening changes (damage, needed repairs, condition of adjacent properties, etc.) or other information that might reduce the fair market assessment and thereby reduce taxes.

Mr. Willnauer also discussed the reality that property taxes are going up significantly this year, mainly due to the increased Washington state portion aimed at achieving Supreme Court-ordered equity in the funding for public education across the state.For more information, visit the assessor’s office website at bit.ly/2GewzEX.

Join the discussion by attending PRTA monthly meetings, at 7 p.m.on the second Wednesday of each month in the community center.

Mark Robbins, president

Point Roberts

The Editor:

The directors of Point Roberts Dollars For Scholars (PRDFS) would like to extend our sincere condolence to the family of Davea Fisher on her passing.

Davea was one of the founders of PRDFS, shaping it into a successful scholarship program that continues to support the youths of Point Roberts with their goals of higher education. During her time as a director and president of PRDFS, Davea helped raise over $143,000 for the scholarship fund.

Davea’s dedication and countless volunteer hours changed lives and advantaged many students in our community.

An educator herself, Davea recognized the value and importance of education for building stronger and more sustainable communities.

We and the many beneficiaries of her efforts are grateful and hope Davea’s Dollars For Scholars legacy will continue to provide hope and educational opportunities for generations to come.

Fern Peltier, treasurer

Point Roberts

The Editor:

I am delighted that Timothy Ballew II, former chairman of the Lummi Nation, was appointed by Whatcom County Council members at their January 16 meeting, to fill the vacant position on the council until the November election. I believe that Ballew, sworn in on January 19, is very well-qualified and has excellent experience that will serve
Whatcom County well.

I was shocked however, that council members didn’t recognize at their meeting how racist and unacceptable the questions asked of Ballew regarding his potential service on the council in the context of conflicts of interest. Ballew is both a citizen of the US and a member of a sovereign Native American nation according to the laws of our country. These are his rights as a descendant of the Coast Salish people who were indigenous to our area, where I and other immigrants are now allowed to live. With no evidence of unethical behavior presented by members of the council, the public challenging of Ballew’s ethics was painful for me to listen to.

I am unable to believe reasoning offered by council member Tyler Byrd about why he questioned Ballew so extensively regarding conflict of interest. He said that due to nomination criteria and the lack of questions from council members, Ballew would likely win. However, from the nomination votes cast at the last meeting, Ballew and Natalie McClendon were in close competition. Also, Byrd’s questions of Ballew came before he heard any questions posed by council members of any nominees, so he could not know how much questioning had been done when he asked his questions. Additionally, Byrd directed the most questions to Ballew and yet did not vote for him.

As a white person, I am aware that we are all evolving in our levels of racism and other exclusionary actions. We must work to educate each other constantly to confront and banish the practice of discriminating in any way against others because of their race, culture, disabilities or sexual identities.

Dena Jensen

Blaine

The Editor:

Thank you representatives Vincent Buys and Jim Walsh for the opportunity to explain the importance of the Hirst decision. Washington State Department of Ecology is legally required to determine well drilling based on Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) maps. There are 62 specific areas in the state based on geological drainage. Whatcom County shares two of these designated areas.

The Hirst ruling mandates that Whatcom County be responsible for its own water decisions based on economic and growth needs of businesses, environmental needs, population and agricultural usage.

In 1975, Whatcom County’s population was around 93,000. Today it is around 220,000. Unfortunately, available water does not increase with population and use requirements which is one reason Growth Management Plans are required. If the county doesn’t know who is using what quantity of water, how can it permit new wells in a shared aquifer?

Housing projects are required to have regulated flow to each home, metered and accounted for. Farms and rural homes need to be accountable too because we share the limited resource!

WRIA maps tell us where water is, HIRST requires us to decide how, when and where to use it. To legislatively “leverage” budget considerations in an effort to find a “permanent Hirst solution” (deny the court decision) is not taking constituents’ best interest at heart!

Donna Starr

Blaine

The Editor:

In November, Whatcom County’s jail proposition was defeated. Now what? Our jail is still in need of repairs and maintenance, it is still overcrowded (although there are reasonable alternatives to incarceration for certain non-felons which would alleviate this) and there is still a need for improved programs for those in need of mental health treatment.

To better understand where we go from here, I listened to Joy Gilfilen, president of Restorative Community Coalition, as she outlined these concerns. Her advice? Become better educated. Get a copy of the Vera Institute of Justice report (cob.org – search for Vera Report). Contact Restorative Community Coalition (whatcomrec.org) and become familiar with their work. Recommend that the sheriff’s office move from the basement of the existing jail, opening up space in the current facility. Promote “no bail” alternatives, after educating yourself on the issue.

We can move forward as educated, informed residents and make Whatcom County better for so many.

Naomi Murphy

Ferndale

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