Letters to the Editor: November 2014


The Editor:

I am offended by Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo’s rationalization for the county’s acquisition of armored vehicles and body armor. This dangerous trend should be viewed against the backdrop of what happened recently in Ferguson, Missouri where similarly militarization led to weeks long escalation of rioting, not a de-escalation.

How you dress influences your behavior. As Radley Balko observes in his book, “Rise of the Warrior Cop,” dressing for battle can easily turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy: You’ve dressed for battle, so battle it will be.

In Ferguson, the police responded to the protests using military-grade riot gear and armored trucks right from the start, before there had been even any signs of violence. Aggressive police dogs were used from day one for crowd control, and a long range acoustic device sound cannon was used to disperse the crowd. A them-versus-us tone was set from the beginning.

Regardless of whether or not any of these armored vehicles end up in Point Roberts, we should secede from the U.S. and start our own country here if the county does nothing to protect us from the threat of the Punjabi language radio towers, which none of us here want.

I don’t want to have to contend with the adverse health impact of having my body irradiated by 50,000 watts of power.

The health risks of living too close to cell towers and other antenna arrays are well documented in the paper “Biological Effects From Exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation Emitted by Cell Tower Base Stations and Other Antenna Arrays,” (http://bit.ly/1wGV6sf)

Both anecdotal reports and some epidemiology studies have found headaches, skin rashes, sleep disturbances, depression, decreased libido, increased rates of suicide, concentration problems, dizziness, memory changes, increased risk of cancer, tremors and other neurophysiological effects in populations near antenna arrays.

Sheriff Elfo’s questionable move should be viewed against the backdrop of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security equipping itself with 1.6 billion rounds of hollow-point ammo that is forbidden for use in warfare under the Geneva Convention (http://onforb.es/1wF654B).

The oligarchy is clearly gearing up for martial law. Here in Point Roberts we can insulate ourselves from the effects of the deliberate crashing of the U.S. dollar by working together to create our own currency similar to the BerkShare in Massachusetts (http://bit.ly/1FWLZYT).

We can learn how to create “Bob Bucks” by reading “Local Money - How to Make it Happen in Your Community” (http://bit.ly/1FWLZYT). I donated a copy of this book to the Homegrown Food Coop on Benson Road.

Once we have our own local currency, we should secede from the United States and create a libertarian utopia here. We don’t need these thugs with guns driving armored vehicles down our streets here while wearing body armor.

John Hammel Point Roberts

The Editor:

Offer: I will match any donations to the Point Roberts Library Building Fund, up to a maximum of $11,652.29, received between now and the 31st of December.

Story: In the past, I have gotten distribution checks in the mail from two or three class action suits that I had no idea I was involved in. Always a nice surprise, but the largest check was for $8.64. Last week I received one from another class action settlement but, you guessed it, this one is for $11,652.29.

Like the smaller checks, it came as a complete surprise to me. It’s a total windfall – unearned, unexpected, unsolicited, possibly even undeserved (who knows, it’s a negotiated settlement and the defendant denies any wrongdoing). So, why me? I don’t even want to go on a cruise. Better the library, I think.

Caveat: We still have $40,000 remaining from an anonymous gift that matches $10,000 “Founder’s” donations. Today’s offer does not include double-matching such donations.

Ed Park Point Roberts

The Editor:

More good paying jobs may improve the wage gap. However, the low wages paid to service industry workers will not improve with more good paying jobs. There are thousands of people in Whatcom County who will work part or all of their lives earning minimum wage. Some will have no choice; most are adults and many are sole providers for their families.

These jobs include waiters, cashiers, clerks, fast food workers, domestics and child care workers, among many others. No matter how many good paying jobs there are, low wage jobs will continue to exist. I do not remember a time when low unemployment has significantly driven up the pay for low wage earners.

We live in a time of record corporate profits and an expansion of wealth in the upper economic levels. This has been going on for some time and yet the standard of living for the lower and middle classes has continued to fall. What is trickling down is not money. We have no evidence that any free-market forces will result in employers voluntarily raising the pay of their low-wage employees to a living wage. Without government involvement we would not have a 40-hour workweek, bans on children working in mines or compensation for workplace injuries.

Most opponents of raising the minimum wage find ways to avoid acknowledging that our economy depends upon a permanent workforce of full-time service industry workers. The dignity of work depends upon earning enough to live on. A living wage is the perfect answer to dependency on the government for food, housing and childcare support. Advocating for poverty-level wages as well as for cutting welfare to the working poor is obscene. I keep expecting to hear these people ask, “Are there no work houses?”

Jim Thomson Birch Bay

The Editor:

GPT proponents claim the proposed terminal would reduce our taxes and pay for public services but facts indicate it would likely increase our tax burdens and reduce our health, wealth and shared natural treasures.

Even in Ferndale, the city closest to Cherry Point and largest recipient of GPT tax monies, there would be negligible tax impact. On October 22, 2012 after meeting with GPT’s spokesman, the Ferndale school district superintendent reported back to the school board about GPT’s potential impact on taxes, saying, “Our district will not receive any more money as a result of this project … it isn’t going to cause an influx of money into our school system.”

GPT likely would decrease the value of our property because GPT would make much of Whatcom County an undesirable place to live. There are thousands of homes within 5 miles of Cherry Point that would be coated with toxic coal dust from GPT’s 2.5 miles of six-story-high uncovered coal stockpiles. Coal dust contaminating the Salish Sea, beaches and wildlife would destroy our tourism and fishing industries. There are thousands of homes where families wouldn’t get a decent night’s sleep because they’d be wakened or shaken by GPT coal trains every 80 minutes of the night and day.

Eighteen daily coal trains traveling the GPT Montana/Wyoming route would block every railroad crossing for two to three hours a day, preventing passengers, businesses and emergency vehicles from getting where they’re needed. BNSF’s announcement that GPT’s nine daily empty coal trains would travel through Sumas is bad news here. The GPT to Sumas route crosses Birch Bay-Lynden Road, crosses the already badly backed-up Bell Road at Peace Portal, continues through Blaine, crosses the border into White Rock, heads east and then crosses the border into Sumas.

Regardless of how much trouble trains cause us, the law says we taxpayers pay 95 percent of the cost for projects to improve traffic at railroad crossings and the railroad pays 5 percent. A single railroad overpass would cost us $40 million.

The people of Whatcom County know we can’t afford GPT – it would cost us everything we hold dear.

Paula Rotondi Blaine

The Editor:

Global warming and pollution starts at the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT).

The proposed export terminal project at GPT might seem like an economic boom to Whatcom County but every aspect of exporting coal is irresponsible.

Burning coal anywhere has serious health consequences, and we are about to supercharge an existing environmental nightmare called global warming. The jet stream blows this pollution from China right back in our faces. Stop all coal exports immediately, because wherever it’s burned, someone’s health and/or our planet suffers.

But what’s really troubling is the massive amounts of water we’ll give away to dampen down piles of coal headed to China. This is shortsighted, because it prevents future allocations of that water, which could easily top any economic benefits GPT is offering. We need to rescind those water permits now.

Let’s think about investing in ways to get our surplus water where it will do the most good. For example, the jobs and infrastructure created by building a pipeline to deliver water to the drought-stricken parts of our agricultural south will not only help the farmers and citizens of that area but will help keep down the cost of produce, something the whole nation would appreciate; something healthy, worthwhile and life-saving. We need to think for a moment and stop the insane proposal of shipping coal anywhere.

Exporting coal is silly and lethal. China already has an overwhelming smog pollution problem from burning coal, but the big-money carpetbaggers from New York behind the GPT don’t care that burning coal kills – our people, our planet and our way of life.

I’d like to think future generations won’t have to put on oxygen masks to go outside to sweep the coal dust and ash off their sidewalks and cars but it’s a slippery slope and I’m not sure we have the courage to stop the proposed GPT nonsense.

Remember big tobacco? The courts eventually held them responsible. If we export coal to be burned, we will be responsible, at least morally, for the resulting damages.

David Allen Blaine


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