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