Posted by: sweeneyblog | March 21, 2012

Over 800 people show up for Cherry Point Info Meeting

Last night, I attended the “pre-scoping” meeting at Bellingham High School. I was far from the only journalist there, with John Stark of the Herald, Tim Johnson of the Cascadia Weekly, King 5 News, the TNT and several other citizen journalists (including Get Whatcom Planning, the best news source for this issue) packing into the facility. So rather than duplicate their work, I’ll just share some pictures and impressions of the event.

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In advance of the event, there was a rally at the steps of the high school by the Bellingham N0-Coal group. About 150 people crammed outside in the rain to wave signs, collect signatures for the initiative and hear speeches.

The rally outside Bham High School

There were some great costume/sign combinations

City Councilmembers Cathy Lehman and Jack Weiss were in attendance at the rally, and Cathy spoke to the huddled masses.

Cathy Lehman Speaks

Facing the Crowd

It was definitely an energized group. Once inside, there were County employees handing out slips of paper with contact information on them. I got to meet Sam Ryan, the County Planning Director, who was greeting people as they came in.

Next to the entrance, there was a station set up by the Northwest Jobs Alliance, a pro-terminal lobbying group. The booth was lightly attended, collecting signatures in support of the project.

Northwest Jobs Alliance

Police moving through the crowd

Inside, the auditorium was PACKED. So much so that after it started they had to close the doors because it was at capacity and set up a secondary seating in the cafeteria with speakers. There was definitely a police presence, with two uniformed Bellingham officers and a couple of undercover plain-clothes officers placed within the crowd. While there was no disruptions while I was there, they definitely were prepared for any such activities.

I was impressed by the array of journalists covering the event. It was packed. I was able to identify some of the groups with video cameras, but at a certain point, I stopped counting. In many ways, I felt reassured. I am often one of the few people covering any sort of event like this, so I was delighted to see so many people taking up the reins.

Journalists Everywhere!

Finally, it was a definite gathering place for many activists and elected officials. Below are some of the pictures I snapped of Whatcom County notables.

Seth Fleetwood listens in the overflow area

City Councilman Stan Snap and Rabble Rouser Tim Paxton Paul Anderson exchange words

Whatcom Dems chair Natalie McClendon enters while police officer looks on

Washington Conservation Voters Board Member Alex Ramel

Matt Krogh of RESources

That’s it for me. If you only read one other article about this gather, hop on over to Get Whatcom Planning, where alternate universe County Council chair Jean Melious and alternate universe County Executive David Stalheim will cover this issue in way more depth than I ever could.

Stay tuned in the next couple of days for more congressional candidate interviews and investigative reports.



  1. Thanks, Riley, for the coverage of Coal Train, etc. “debates”. So glad there was such a good turnout.
    Janet L-S

  2. I am an alternate universe legislator. Hey Riley, nice verbal snapshot.

    Just a semantic correction, if the police officers you referred to as undercover were police officers wearing normal clothes and doing nothing in particular to deny that they were police, then that would be referred to as “plain clothes” officers. If they were dressed as hippie protestors with signs and trying to see if they could get other attendees to tell them insider information or participate in illegal behavior, under the false pretense of them not being police officers, that would be undercover.

    • Thank you for the catch there. Fixed.

  3. Hi Riley,

    I fear you may have insulted Tim Paxton by identifying me as he in the photograph with Stan.



    • Got it repaired. Good catch. Thank you!

  4. […] night with a wide selection of attendees. Anytime you have Bob Pritchett (of Logos Bible Software), Alex Ramel (of Whatcom Conservation Voters), Tony Larson (fmr. Tea Party County Councilmember) and Lisa […]

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