Posted by: sweeneyblog | July 19, 2013

Friday Odds and Ends: Ballots, Berries and Ranker

Hello Loyal Readers,

It is that time again for Odds and Ends, bringing you all the news that is fit to print. So sit back, pour yourself a lemonade and enjoy your news digest.

Sen. Kevin Ranker

Sen. Kevin Ranker

Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-40th) was recently elected president of the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) at the organization’s Annual Summit in Anchorage, AK. The organization is a non-partisan public/private partnership committed to increasing economic activities between the pacific northwest states and Canadian provinces. “I am humbled, I am honored, and above all else – I am excited,” Ranker said.“I believe there are incredible opportunities before us in this region and I believe PNWER is the organization that is positioned to ensure we maximize each of these opportunities.” Tip of the hat to you, Kevin!

Meanwhile, down in Skagit, the Sakuma Berry Farmers are fighting for reasonable pay. Currently they are paid $0.30 a pound, which makes it difficult for them to even make minimum wage. In conjunction with the Community 2 Community organization, they are organizing to demand a few breaks during the work day and better pay. To learn more, please check out You can also call Community 2 Community directly here: (360)756-2478.

Ballots are mailed out for the primary. It is a light load for this election, with only one Bellingham City Council seat and one school board position incurring a primary, everyone else continues to the general. I will be publishing my endorsements for the primary as soon as I get my ballot in the mail.

As promised, I have the real story behind the marijuana ban (moratorium!) but I’m verifying a few more sources before I publish. I hope to have that story live over the weekend. In the meantime, enjoy the good weather!



  1. Top blueberry pickers can do “maybe” 12 – 15 lbs per hour. Or 100 lbs per day. At 30 cents that is only $4.50 per hour. Blue berries average $3.91 per pound nationwide.
    That means 8% of the cost is the picking of the blue berries. 70 cents is not unreasonable to pay good pickers.

    • If your math is right, then all your hypothetical “top blueberry pickers” will be topped up to minimum wage based on hours worked when the piece rate works out to less than minimum wage. Your cited $4.50 an hour is disingenuous and misleading.

      If as you say the average RETAIL price of berries is $3.91, then this equates back to roughly $2 per lb to the grower, net of retailer margins, brokerage and freight. Out of this, the grower has to pay payroll taxes, property and B&O tax, admin costs, fertilizer and pesticide costs, land rent, and some return for his efforts. How do you propose he do this when you in your wisdom more than double the picking costs? SHould he lose money so that pickers can make $12 per hour?

      The problem here, and it is common in ag, is that retailers have disproportionate power and use it to make excessive profits on the backs of farmers. Your approach (and Riley’s) attacks the wrong people. The farm economy has serious problems, and knee-jerk “blame the boss” responses are not helpful.

      • I don’t think I blamed the boss, David, I just let people know what is going on and what they can do to help.

  2. What, no wrap up of the central committee meeting from last night?

    • Saving that for my next week’s post.

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