Lorraine

Last Night at Council…

Due to the lateness of the Council meeting and my obligations to get work done for paying customers, this will be a quick-post of video taken at last night’s meeting. It was a late night for those of us who showed up to speak at the Public Hearing held at Council Chambers, to comment on their proposed ordinances to implement another 60 day Emergency Moratorium and a six-month moratorium, against fossil fuel exports (and more) at the Cherry Point industries. Lorraine took a lot of notes as I shot short videos of the comments made during last night’s hearing. The audience was made-up of a fairly even split of people who were for and against the proposed moratorium…but most of the video I shot was of the pro-moratorium speakers, because I believe they’re more educational and entertaining. It’s important that the people who live and work here understand what happens every two weeks at these County Council meetings. Because you trust that your representative is there to look out for you, and because they’re there to represent you, you often choose not to attend these meetings while at work, or after your long day at work. No one blames you for the need to be with family and friends. …

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Another Breach of Trust from a Government Agency.

I would like to say I am shocked and surprised, but in the current government agency environment, the old adage of why ask for permission when you can just say you are sorry later seems to have taken a good hold on our federal agencies. For years I have heard farmers and ranchers speculate about answering Census questions and filing reports with government agencies. Because 75% of farming is still small (less than $50,000 in gross sales) and family owned, government reporting contains personal information about the individuals involved. It appears their concerns were justified. Now that the cow is out of the barn, EPA will not be able to undo the damage of private information already released but hopefully due to a recent ruling from the 8th Circuit Court, they will not continue to release private information. ~ Lorraine Newman Below is a report from Ag News Wire concerning CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) reports filed with EPA and the Circuit Court decision: “The Environmental Protection Agency has violated the personal privacy of tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers, according to a unanimous ruling issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The ruling …

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Is the County Council Ignoring the Public Process?

Is the Whatcom County Council following the public policy guidelines from the “Growth Management Act,” and the same policy from the guide on how-to-integrate-public-comments in the,”Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan update for 2017?” Has the Whatcom County Council’s refusal to turn over their proposed changes to the Comp Plan update to the Planning Commission, for review and analysis, to insure that it smoothly melds with the updates being proposed by Bellingham and the other smaller Cities, setup Whatcom County to slide further into economic decline? It’s hard to fathom that being dead last, being 39th of 39 Counties, on the economically unaffordable places to live and work is possible, but maybe it is? It appears on the face of it that they are not. The Growth Management Act is specifically designed to be a bottom-up, public process, where all concerns are addressed before approving and passing the changes placed within it. In an email reply, Councilperson Barbara Brenner questions whether the process has been followed by the other Council members when she states; ” I don’t believe they had any intent on taking the time to absorb all the correspondence and comments we received yesterday.” (see email thread below) There is a 60 day …

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Voices of Sanity Ignored by Local County Council

Aug. 9th, 2016 was the last opportunity citizens had to publicly speak, for or against, the proposed changes to Whatcom County’s future plans for growth. The Council passed their garbage and ignored the many common sense arguments against their proposed changes. Whatcom County is 39th of 39 counties with regards to economic livability due to the high costs to live here, versus the communities average wages. Wages are determined by our ability to produce, attract, and retain the industries capable of paying the wages needed to live here. Producing a vibrant economy is more than beautiful vistas and a smattering of farm pets grazing in the pastures. Whoops!, forgot that farm pets are under attack too. The next time you wonder, Why is housing so expensive? Why aren’t my wages keeping up with the costs of living? Ask yourself if you can house and eat, that pretty pasture your local county politician is working to protect.  A vibrant economy depends on the ability to conduct business in a predictable business climate…something Bellingham and Whatcom County lacks. This is an example of the type of commonsense that was publicly heard and officially posted to the public record on the Council’s proposed changes to …

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Local Whatcom County Citizen’s Share their Concerns for Ozzie and Farm Pets…

Thanks to everyone who showed to the “Save Ozzie” protest today. We were approximately 40 strong in number. We showed up prepared and informed. We showed up to ask the DOE questions. And, sadly I must report here that the answers given by the Regional Office Director, Doug Allen did not satisfy many there. A ‘zero’ tolerance level for the potential to pollute is not humanly possible and is not healthy for the environment. As agents for the DOE, it is not a satisfactory answer that they are only enforcing what the Legislature has directed them to do. If the State and Local Legislative Representatives had this intent in mind, then they need to be contacted too. These are the word of the Whatcom County citizen’s who attended the “SAVE Ozzie” protest. Be patient. Be strong. This type of bullying must stop and we must all come together to ensure that it does. Thank You for showing your support for “Ozzie” and all Farm Pets…because pets lives matter too.  

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“Save Ozzie” – Because All Pets Lives Matter

Ozzie is 28 years old with the probability of 2 more years of life. We invite you to join us Tuesday, July 19th, 2016, 12 noon, at the Department of Ecology’s Regional Branch, in Bellingham ’s Fairhaven District (see map below), to seek answers.  What are their intentions for the lives of all pets in Whatcom County, and Ozzie in particular? Last week we shared a post from a Whatcom County rural resident about her problem dealing with the State Department of Ecology (DOE). We shared Kathy and Ozzie’s post because we have heard rumblings from the county that DOE is expanding their compliance programs with real negative effects on rural lives. Well, Ozzie’s story has struck a chord in our county and beyond.  (See Kathy’s story below.) When a state agency comes knocking at your door it is intimidating. They come with the full weight of the state behind them. You can only hope whatever compliance they are seeking will not crush you. Whatcom County rural land owners are finding there is no easy, quick, or inexpensive way to keep their pets on their acreage when the DOE comes knocking. They are being told they must comply with similar …

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Confusion in the Council Chambers

At 9:30 this Tuesday morning, interested parties gathered in the Whatcom County Council chambers to hear about and hopefully comment on radical changes being suggested to our Comprehensive Plan involving the Cherry Point Area. By 10:30, the council left the council chambers for an Executive Session with the Whatcom County lawyers regarding these very changes. The chamber full of people waited patiently. By 11:30 the council had reconvened and with some confusion announced that per the advice of their legal staff, they would vote to pull these amendments from the Comprehensive Plan, refer them back to the Planning Department and re-introduce them at a later time, in order to provide time for public comment. Before they voted, each council-member made a comment on their opinion of the process to date. Councilman Sidhu, began contentiously by stating his displeasure with the public comments he had received to date, and lectured the room on reading proposals before communicating with council-members. Councilwoman Brenner, affirmed that she had read every communication sent to her on the Cherry Point Amendments and only found 2 to have no value. Councilman Weimer, defended the amendments and defended the short notice of the amendments. He stated that they could not bring …

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Whatcom County needs to hit the Planning Attitude Reset Button

  There is a new  informational booklet out there about Bellingham that asks are we “Failing to Plan or Planning to Fail?”   It is a pertinent question in light of the recent news that we at the bottom of the 50 worst places to live in the United States.  We need to start asking what has gone wrong here? Perhaps part of our problem can be gleaned from this article from the Charleston Post Courier, “The Mega-Developments.” For those interested in developments, especially mega-planned developments, this is a good read. It highlights development issues faced in the Charleston, South Carolina area. It speaks of both the positives and negatives. This upbeat article tells how people on all sides worked together and focused on solving problems rather than just say no to everything. The last sentence says it all, about a community that is willing to face a changing future unafraid, and shape it into a place for all. “Berkeley County” will continue to push for industrial and commercial growth, so our residents are able to live, work, raise a family and play here in Berkeley County,” he said. “We want to make sure that our residents can continue to enjoy the beauty …

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Good News for Owners of Puddles, Ditches and Plows

The Supreme Court does not always offer unanimous decisions, but here is one that supporters of property rights will like in the case titled United States v. the Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., Inc.   Today they ruled that landowners may challenge  the Army Corps of Engineers, a federal agency,  when they attempt to improperly regulate land with regulations designed to protect water. To give a little background, in the past the Army Corps of Engineers could write a “determination”  that your property could be regulated because it impacts water.  But a “determination”  was not considered as a “final agency action.”   As a result property owners who received a “determination” that a landscape feature was a “water of the United States” from the Army Corp of Engineers had two options,  continue what they were doing and face civil fines up to $37,500 a day, or attempt to comply.  The compliance process would take several years and require tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to apply for a permit, only to have the permit ultimately denied.   Only after a permit was denied could they seek remedy in the courts. Now property owners will have the right to challenge the …

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Army Corp of Engineers Side with Tribes over Expansion for Growth and Economic Opportunity of Dry Bulk Exports at Gateway Pacific Terminal

If you are disappointed and concerned about the Army Corp of Engineers decision to deny a permit for the Gateway Pacific Terminal, you are not alone. The Federal Government with the aid of the Army Corp of Engineers have set up a precedents that must be challenged in the courts. Not to do so, will forever negatively affect Washington jobs, farms, families, businesses and our future. It has unlawfully abused the Commerce Clause by denying landlocked states to ability to export their goods to other nations. Their decision to deny the permit, prior to the completion and outcome of the environmental impact statement, shows a federal government which has lost sight of their reason for existence. ~ Lorraine Newman The Montana Farm Bureau sounds-off on the foolish actions of the Army Corp of Engineers.   May 11, 2016 Farm Bureau dismayed about Army Corps decision on shipping terminal The Montana Farm Bureau is expressing its dismay regarding the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers denying a permit for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal. The Gateway Pacific Terminal, the proposed dry bulk export facility located at Cherry Point in northwest Washington, would have served as a multi-commodity transload station from trains to vessels heading …

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