City of Bellingham Evasive About Public Input into Projects
To the Editor:
Back in September 2011, I wrote sections of the following letter to the City of Bellingham and to the Whatcom Watch editor. It was not published but it presents a background for the more recent letter I hope Whatcom Watch does publish.
Sections of letter from September 2, 2011:
Dear Whatcom Watch and Freeman Anthony,
I just read the September article, “Setting the Record Straight: The July Article on the Old Paper Mill Contained Many Inaccuracies.”
The July article is the one I wrote. What inaccuracies that occurred, occurred because Anthony lied to me and is lying in the September 2011article many times. Also he creates many distortions.
Anthony said I had stated the land elevation was too high to use northeast of the plant, but in fact I had written “Anthony said it was because land elevation was too high … .” I had written, “To the naked eye, the area appears to be the same elevation as the proposed expansion area. Do city planners want the treatment buildings to be in a neat row with the tanks close together? Is that why the land to the northeast, covered with old asphalt, was not being considered?”
Unfortunately, Anthony had refused to answer my questions by email or in writing, but I did take notes and did report to the Happy Valley Neighborhood Association (HVNA) about how Anthony answered my questions. I had assumed Anthony had wanted to give me an easy quick answer, which in the September article he claims was my answer. It was not mine, and in fact I doubted his and guessed at the correct answer that he states as his. [The new structure needed to be closer to the older structures.]
… Further, perhaps Anthony just made a pronoun reference error, but Anthony writes: “The author said she asked city planning “why the sign at the plant said, ‘Application for Land Use Permit’ if a contract had already been signed? She said one had not been signed.” This whole supposed quote is inaccurate.
I had said Kim Weil, from city planning, said a contract had not been signed. With Anthony’s “she,” he infers I had said that. I had not. I was quoting the City Planner.
[I continued my response letter by pointing out other Anthony distortions, but as the project is a “done deal,” I will not burden the reader with more distortion descriptions.]
So now for a more current letter to the Whatcom Watch editor:
April 26, 2012
To the Editor:
Thank you for telling me about the Post Point construction phase project meeting on Tuesday, April 24, 2012.
Originally the project had interested me as I had been told by the Bellingham Planning Department that my input would be considered that the project was not a done deal.
However, Bellingham Public Works directors Freeman Anthony and Ted Carlson afterwards told me multiple times that the Post Point project “was a done deal ten years ago.”
It is obvious that Public Works will do whatever they want to do and they will not take input from the public. After all, this is a 55 million dollar project — more now. Why would citizens paying for the project complain when there was a cheaper alternative that could have employed local people and spent money on fixing the problem of stormwater entering the sewer system?
However, Public Works will politely listen when people give their opinions, but it seems no opinion is granted anything but an ear.
The same could be said about the Bellingham City Council as they approve what Public Works asks them to.
I am not interested in reporting or hearing about what Public Works prefers people ignore. They are only being politically polite.
After all, city workers are only doing their job, or is it that they are getting a few Mortenson Construction kickbacks?
Pardon me for believing the Dalai Lama1 when he wrote, “I held the view that the US was the champion of freedom …. Now, as I have come to know the country better, I have begun to see that, in some ways, the American political system does not live up to its own ideals.”
So Whatcom Watch, thank you for attempting to keep me in the know. I hope this time, you will print my letter.
1Dalai Lama. “Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama.” Harper Perennial: A Division of Harper Collins Publishers. 1990 (198)