Letters to the Editor – November


The Editor:

Do you support the governments of the United States and Canada entering into discussions regarding the sale of Point Roberts?

I definitely support the idea of Canada purchasing Point Roberts.

The overall result would be beneficial for both Canada and the United States.

The current status is not satisfactory for many obvious reasons, such as the hassle at the border, health care, water, septic, etc. and the trend is getting worse.

Rod Keys

Point Roberts

The Editor:

Letter writer Gail Neff Bell thinks “the old mapmaker was quite mad when he slapped the border where it is” on Point Roberts.

Actually, it was the British army that erred, but when one considers the primitive instruments they had compared with today’s, they came pretty close to correct when considered on a global scale. The border is misplaced by about 600 feet or 600 yards – I forget which – too far south according to today’s experts, but it will stay where it is. However, the American army must take some of the blame. As the border was being surveyed across the continent, the American army came out each summer to check the British calculations. Since they would have no reason to doubt British accuracy, I suspect the checks were only perfunctory, and more checking of the quality of the whiskey in the officer’s tent was done than checking calculations. If the Americans did see any errors, they kept quiet about it.

The cost to Canada to buy Point Roberts would be more than the U.S. paid Russia for the whole of Alaska, so the sale is not likely to happen. However, if it did happen, the people of Point Roberts would gain if they were allowed to have Point Roberts as their own town with their own town council; but if Point Roberts had to become part of Tsawwassen, they would have to face the Point being destroyed by real estate development in a few years.

Residents would have to be given full Canadian status as though they were born in B.C. To make them serve time as landed immigrants in their own town and then be given only Canadian citizen status (a person with only citizen status can be deported for any cause back to their home country) would be unfair and ridiculous.

Aside from such obvious things as getting daily bus service, Point Roberts Americans would get low-cost medical coverage, $80 ambulance service (whether on wheels or helicopter), and their children could go to high school in B.C. instead of being bused to Blaine. They would not be subject to military draft service outside North America (some draftees were sent to Alaska, which is part of North America, to help Americans in WWII); something which Canada has never done in any war.

Those over 55 would be able to defer (only in B.C.) their property taxes and make money doing that. The penalty for not paying property tax is only 0.7 of one percent at simple interest. They could invest that money at least at two percent compound and make money by not paying tax.

They would get car insurance that cannot be canceled as long as they have a valid driver’s license.

They would learn that if the voters don’t like the prime minister or a premier there’s no impeachment procedural rigamarole; the members of parliament just have a non-confidence vote and out he goes. They would also learn that, unlike an American president, a prime minister or premier can call an election any time he wishes.

Personally, I hope Point Roberts stays American and doesn’t get destroyed by developers, because that is what would surely happen if it were to become part of Tsawwassen, and doesn’t stay a separate town.

G.A. Scott

Richmond, B.C.

The Editor:

I’m one of Point Roberts’ newest residents; a “registered to vote here” resident. I was surprised to learn about a call to transfer Point Roberts to Canada. I’m an international law attorney for the U.S. Army and work extensively with treaties, bilateral agreements and international contracts, and have assisted nations in rebuilding their internal governing structures. A transfer of Point Roberts would have negative impacts with second and third order consequences that must be considered.

For example, my government-backed mortgage is secured by my house itself. If I default on the loan, the bank can foreclose on my house to protect itself. However, it would have no such authority in Canada. Because my collateral would no longer be sufficient security, the loan will likely be called into default with full payment due immediately. It’s possible that every loan on Point Roberts secured by collateral in Point Roberts, and suddenly outside the reach of the lender, would be defaulted: inventory purchase loans, secured personal loans, lines of credit/equity.

After my retirement, I can’t “hang out my shingle” as my law license isn’t recognized in Canada. I can’t even volunteer pro bono outside of my licensed jurisdictions. Every licensed professional would cease to be certified – electricians, plumbers, real estate agents, teachers, daycare providers, healthcare workers, fire emergency personnel. If granted a work permit in any negotiated transfer, every one of us will have to learn new standards, pay to take classes, pass exams or apprenticeships, secure new certifications and compete with the already established Canadian workforce right over the border. All zoning and permitting would be required to follow standards passed by British Columbia, not Washington. Construction would likely cease until new inspections, with Canadian qualified personnel, and new permits could be secured.

Businesses, including LLCs, LLPs and even sole proprietorships, formed or incorporated in the U.S. would cease to have legal status and, therefore, legal protections. Charters, by-laws and other governing documents would have to be redrafted to capture the foreign aspects of operations. Tax structures and schemes would all change with any transfer of sovereign government authority.

Speaking of taxes, my retirement planning hasn’t contemplated all the added expenses of living in a foreign jurisdiction – has yours? If my bank calls my mortgage due, it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to secure Canadian financing since I don’t have Canadian credit, so I’ll have to liquidate my savings or investments for a cash purchase. Then, with depleted savings and no law license to replace that lost money, I’ll be faced with higher property taxes, higher gas prices, higher postal rates.

I would write a weekly column on this, but I’ll end by saying, I hope this doesn’t take wings without serious thought, debate and full consideration of all consequences.

Melissa Ridgely

Point Roberts

The Editor:

During a recent candidates forum held on Lummi Island, it became clearer to me who the best candidates are for county executive, the at-large council seat, and the coastal district 5 council seat.

As a candidate for county executive, Tony Larson said that county workers’ wages, pensions and medical benefits were crowding important items out of the discretionary budget. Although he advocates for affordable housing in other contexts, as a union member, I see this as a direct attack on the ability of workers to be able to pay for housing. People who work for local government deserve a living wage the same as local industries pay living wages.

Candidates for the coastal district 5 council seat, Ben Elenbaas and Natalie McClendon couldn’t be more different. Ben Elenbaas erroneously claimed that from 1999 to 2016, the earth cooled while the earth actually warmed in that time period and continues to warm. It may be incidental that he works for the fossil fuel industry, but I wonder how I could expect him to govern the county into the future at a time when we need a transition to clean energy. Natalie McClendon on the other hand, supports both protecting living wage jobs and a transition to clean energy.

Running for the at-large council seat, Carol Frazey gave a poignant account of county council members helping to staff an impromptu overnight homeless shelter during this past winter. She has spent a good deal of time thinking about ways to reduce homelessness in our county and has specific ideas on how to accomplish that goal.

I plan to vote for Satpal Sidhu for county executive, Natalie McClendon for county council district 5, and Carol Frazey for council-at-large.

Elizabeth Kilanowski

Lummi Island

The Editor:

I’m voting for John Romaker for Whatcom County assessor because he’s been chief deputy assessor here for nearly 29 years, working closely with retiring county assessor Keith Willnauer.

John Romaker’s leadership and experience are important in managing the office’s 30 employees and $3.4 million budget. The assessor’s office is responsible for providing timely and accurate information to property owners, county administrators and many local government entities.

Don’t just believe me. Whatcom County’s most respected officials have endorsed John Romaker in this election. They include outgoing county assessor Keith Willnauer, county executive Jack Louws, county treasurer Steve Oliver, county prosecuting attorney Eric Richey and recently retired prosecuting attorney Dave McEachran, plus the mayors of Lynden, Ferndale, Blaine, Everson, Nooksack and Sumas.

Remember to cast your ballot and vote for John Romaker for Whatcom County assessor.

Dave Brumbaugh



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