Posted by: sweeneyblog | June 4, 2013

Kathy Kershner’s Thoughts on Breaking the Law

For many years, Whatcom County has been violating the state law governing planning for our community. Failing to comply with this law, called the Growth Management Act (GMA), has cost us thousands of dollars in legal fees and made us ineligible for hundreds of thousands of state dollars. You can read my simple explanation of all this here.

At the Whatcom Democrats endorsement meeting, council president and GMA opponent, Kathy Kershner, was asked about this issue and it was the only time that someone’s answer was boo-ed.

That’s right, she referred to Futurewise as a special interest group that doesn’t care about Whatcom County. Aside from that statement being incorrect, the fact is that there were several Futurewise board members in the audience who did not take kindly to her statement. I would like to add that the few boos, you can hear them at the end, were quickly ssshh-ed.

The video was provided by Center for New Media, who filmed the entire event. I will be sharing some small clips from the endorsement meeting over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.



  1. I don’t care if it’s my allies or my opponents on an issue, I don’t like spin. Kathy asserted that Futurewise “…don’t care about ALL of the people of Whatcom County.”, meaning that some folks will lose property value. You can argue that those losses are for the greater good of everyone else, but it’s hard to argue that Futurewise would seem like a friend to the receivers of collateral damage, whether or not that loss is necessary for the community.

    • Futurewise does care about all the people in Whatcom County – they are trying to preserve everyone’s property values in the long-term. That’s their whole goal, helping people see the long-term damage the lack of planning will cause.

  2. A declaration by Lisa McShane that the County is “breaking the law” does not mean the County is breaking the law and, I’m a little sorry Riley to see you headline the piece “Kathy Kershner’s thoughts on breaking the law.” The Hearings Board is routinely overturned in the courts. The headline is unfair unless you have the ear of the judge and already know what the outcome of a challenge will be. I might add as well, using Lisa’s declaratory approach I could ask her why, in the reconveyance challenge Lisa is strongly encouraging the county to break the law.

    Also, I didn’t hear Kathy Kershner mention Futurewise one single time in the video. The challenge to the hearings board includes Futurewise, some developers, several individuals and the City of Bellingham all of whom are special interests and most of whom don’t particularly give a rip about the ordinary people of the county.

    • The Growth Management Act has been settled law since the ’90s, you and I both agree on that. The county is out of compliance with that law – therefore breaking it. We can argue about how much they are breaking the law or if the law is the right fit for our county, but there is no argument about whether the law has been broken.

      The people who are forcing the county to comply with the law care deeply about everyone in this county and are working to protect the property values of this community by not letting a select few developers destroy our quality of life.

  3. The GMA should never have been passed.

    The fact that we are continually fighting over what it means and what it doesn’t mean is a pretty good indicator that it’s just poorly written law. But, it was the best that the “sustainable development” Agenda 21 types, like it’s creator, former City of Seattle “planner” J. Gary Lawrence, could pull off at the time.

    Speaking of incorrect, that isn’t what Kathy said, Riley. Feel free to go back and listen to the clip again. Kathy said, quoting now, verbatim, “We’re being challenged and sued by special interest groups who don’t care about all of the people in Whatcom County.”

    I think that is an accurate statement. Futurewise, who she didn’t name by the way, couldn’t give a rip about pro-constitution, pro-property rights people. I’m just sayin’. 😉

    • As Gov. Romney showed, insulting a good chunk of your electorate is not always the best strategy for winning elections. 😉

      • Very true, but one must be true to what one believes, no? In fairness to Kathy, she was asked directly what her opinion was. Her opinion, which many of us do agree with.

      • Actually all Romney showed was giving up on an election during the last month and going into hibernation won’t activate your voters.

      • He also showed that no matter what you do, it’s hard to overcome an incumbents 108% voter turnout. 😉

  4. The problem here, it seems to me, is indicative of a larger issue: the lack of civility in the political sphere. People are so partisan as to disparage the motives of groups who are genuinely concerned with the future of the place where they live. That’s my takeaway – it’s the disrespect for people you disagree with that stands out to me in Mrs. Kershner’s response.
    Otherwise Mrs. Kershner’s response expresses the frustration of the land owners she represents with a legislative process which they fear will reduce what they can sell their land for.

  5. Romney might say that taxpayer’s dollars spent fighting for a narrow interpretation of property rights that benefit a few at the impact on many is a great example of taking from the makers.
    Or maybe he’d think, like Candidate Kershner, that government should be concerned with easing personal responsibility for the poor investment choices of a few citizens at a cost to the many.
    In which case government would be makers and that is unacceptable too.
    Oh well.

  6. Kathy Kershner’s comments were so out of line at the Democrat meeting. The good news is that she is starting to show her true colors. On June 4th, this is what she said at a county council meeting:

    “I’ve heard that Bellingham is now listed as one of the top places to come and hang out if you don’t have a job. I don’t feel safe downtown. I don’t even go downtown. There’s more people holding signs, there’s more people milling about downtown.”

    Her comments about special interests is incredibly perverse. She has negotiated deals with Caitac USA, Trillium, Jack Swanson, Yew Street Associates and Governor’s Point. She extended the life of permits that were granted in 1982 without any protections for wetlands, buffers and shoreline protections. Are those special interests thinking about all of Whatcom County citizens? No.

    And yes, Jack, they are breaking the law. And now, quite specifically and deliberately. They just introduced an ordinance on the rural element that purposefully says they won’t follow an order that the council chose not to appeal. That is so wrong on many fronts.

    And, your attack on Lisa’s support of the reconveyance is based on an airmchair interpretation of county zoning and state growth management laws. You will lose that case, I fully suspect. I’ll put a beer or a cup of coffee on that.

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