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A Reprieve

Who would have thought as I grumbled into yet another meeting room, for yet another watchful look at our local government that I would be pleasantly surprised.  But that is just what happened Wednesday evening.   At a Neighborhood meeting no less.  For those of you who are just waking up to the political goings on in our area, Neighborhood Association Meetings have become another layer.  The city of Bellingham and outlying urban areas have been formed into Neighborhood districts.  Some have attempted to take on a political role while others appear to be a formalized neighborhood get together to discuss issues affecting the immediate area. So off I go to see what our Geneva Neighborhood Association is up to.  On the agenda are  Patrick Sorensen, Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District, and Susan Taylor, WSU Whatcom County Extension Service. Our water and sewer rates are on a steep incline over the last several years, so Mr. Sorenson faced a tough crowd.  He remained calm and focused as he walked us through district expenses and explained how they were financing capital repairs. An important issue for the Lake Whatcom Water District is is’s size and topography.  There was a lot of discussion …

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A Good Citizen

I am trying to be a good citizen.  I have started attending county council meetings, and county council committee meetings.  If you read my last post (Teamwork 101)  you get a sense that for the new comer this can be a mind-boggling experience.  However, because I attended the WIT meeting last week I had an opportunity on Monday to talk “one-on-one” with a committee member about how and what they were attempting to communicate was not what was being heard. Our conversation did help us both realize that the communication gulf was wider than either of us expected.  I can only hope I was helpful in trying to bridge the gap. Yes, words matter and knowing your audience is crucial to clear communication. Tuesday, I sat in on a meeting of the county’s Natural Resources committee.  The first discussion was about conservation easements. I have a list of questions to ask people who know this stuff so that I can have a better understanding of the issues. The next presentation was about Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) in the Lake Whatcom watershed.  Quite early in Steve Hood’s presentation he made the comment “ I guess you could say thank goodness …

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Will Whatcom County be Bankrupted by TMDL?

Haven’t heard of TMDL?  You’re probably not alone and sadly many homeowners in Whatcom County may not learn about it until they open up their property tax assessments or try to sell their home.  The acronym of TMDL, stands for “total maximum daily load.”   This probably doesn’t mean much to you, but to keep it simple, the Department of Ecology (DoE) is proposing(?), or mandating(?) due to the Clean Water Act from the EPA (environmental protection agency) that surface water run-off from impervious surfaces be reduced by 87%. Currently surface water run-off is handled in many ways on our homes and property.  Gutters, down-spouts, drain tiles, french-drains, ditches, culverts and  retention ponds are many of the common processes currently in use.  One thing that all of these processes have in common is that eventually the water enters the city sewer system or the surrounding water sources.  The goal of DoE’s surface water reduction, or benchmark, for TMDL is to prevent that run-off from entering the storm water system or natural waterways, thus reducing the elevation of phosphorous introduction into Lake Whatcom.  It has been determined that phosphorous loading to the lake is an issue for Lake Whatcom water Basins 1 …

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Teamwork – 101

I was recently thumbing through a little book, Teamwork 101, by John C. Maxwell and found the following statement: “Working together with other people toward a common goal is one of the most rewarding experiences of life.” Last week I sat as a spectator at a public WIT (Whatcom Integration Team) meeting. Twenty committee members, mostly bureaucrats, sat around a table. This was their fifth meeting and they were discussing where to go with the information they had gathered and how to increase public understanding of what they were doing. For those who are unaware of this small segment of our county’s water planning, as best I can tell, this group was called together by the WRIA1 Joint Board, to create a pool of information about our ongoing water issues that would assist in accessing grant funding specifically from Puget Sound Partnership and more broadly from other sources. This is also the group that in the attempt to characterize issues of importance in our backyard gave a zero rating to rural independent living, several months back. When I think back on “teams” I have been on most have been rewarding, either in knowledge gained, friendships earned, or goals accomplished. I …

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Saturday Morning Live for March 23, 2013

Jacob Deschenes and Karl Uppiono host the 42nd district Senator Ericksen and Representatives Overstreet and Buys to discuss Legislative updates.  

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City of Bellingham and Whatcom County debate Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) fees

The City of Bellingham and Whatcom County Council are each grappling with what to do about the potential for invasive species contamination of our waters.  If you do an internet search on “aquatic invasive species,” (AIS) you will find a lot of information, probably more than you really wish to know, but with all things governmental it is important that we all pay attention, because it’s going to cost you if you don’t.  Starting in 2013, if you own recreational watercraft, you are going to be required to purchase an AIS permit before it will be allowed in Lake Whatcom.  The debate for Whatcom County, is whether to require an AIS permit only on Lake Whatcom, or on all water resources in Whatcom County and how much to charge for it.  On the other side of the fence is the City of Bellingham (COB), whose focus is on Lake Padden and that portion of Lake Whatcom, which lies within the boundaries of the Bellingham city limits.  City of Bellingham’s focus of concern is; “What to charge for their AIS permit and how to get Whatcom County to play nice with them?”  Current concensus appears to be a $50.00 annual fee and …

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Saturday Morning Live for March 16, 2013

Host Kris Halterman talks with John Evans and Ed Kilduff of San Juan County about Community Land Trusts and the new Green Economy.  

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Why I would “Vote No,” on the Lake Whatcom Reconveyance

Image of Clark’s Point, from WLT website at www.whatcomlandtrust.org Dear Council and Executive Louws; Another day.  Another letter.  I’ve followed the Reconveyance discussion for the past 2 years and this is why I would “Vote No” for the Reconveyance: Whatcom County currently holds approx. 7400 acres in park land (4 x’s more than any other county in Washington State). Whatcom County has developed for public utilization approx. 1900 acres of the 7400 acres (that’s a lot of under-utilized property). If the trust land is conveyed back to Whatcom County, the County will be responsible for 16,200 acres  in park land (8x’s more than any other county in Washington State). The Department of Ecology is on record that, “the Reconveyance of this land will not improve Lake Whatcom water quality.” The financial presentation by Whatcom County Parks has moved the target from a 5 to 10 year cost projection and development; to a 15 to 30 year cost projection and development. Presently the land is available for low impact recreational activity. Presently the DNR manages a selective logging practice to benefit the trust holders (that’s all of us). Presently the State has the obligation to pay for any landslides that occur …

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Saturday Morning Live for March 9, 2013

Host Kris Halterman talks with Glenn Morgan, Jami Lund and Jeff Rhodes of the Freedom Foundation about the Lake Whatcom Reconveyance and proposed bills in the state legislature. SML Podcast 030913

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“Guns Accross America Rally,” featured speaker Dan Bongino.

“Ask yourself why?  It’s not about gun control!”

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