Posted by: sweeneyblog | January 10, 2014

Friday Odds and Ends: Council’s Head, Pardo Shoulders and the Senate Shin

Hello Loyal Readers,

It is time again for our weekly round up of all the news that’s fit to print, just not big enough to justify its own post.

Regime Change on the Bham Council

Regime Change on the Bham Council

The new councilwomen, Pinky Vargas and Roxanne Murphy, were sworn in earlier this week. Already, they are tipping the balance of power. When the council held nominations for Council president, Gene Knutson nominated suspected mayoral candidate Michael Lilliquist. However, Terry Bornemann nominated Cathy Lehman as well.

The votes for Lehman included Jack Weiss, Bornemann and the two new councilwomen, Vargas and Murphy, putting Lehman in charge for 2014 (with Bornemann as the council president pro-tem). What influence will Lehman have on city politics as council president? We will see, but it is clear that the former boys club has already felt the impact of the 2013 election.

Goldman Sachs, frustrated by us lousy activists here in Whatcom, has sold its share of the Gateway Pacific Terminal. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. The Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partnerships sold off its remaining equity in Carrix, a massive holding company that owns the company that owns the company that . . . where was I? Oh yes, basically, some money changed hands high up the food chain because Goldman Sachs decided it wasn’t worth the fight.

Who did they sell their stake in this project to? A Mexican businessman named Fernando Chico Pardo will be shouldering that burden. This high-rolling tycoon has been involved in everything from metal mining in South America to chairman of the board for every major bank in Mexico. I doubt this will have a big impact on their efforts locally, but it is interesting to see one of the players take their ball and go home.

Sen. Paull Shin

Sen. Paull Shin

Long-time Democratic state Senator Paull Shin (D-Edmonds/South Everett) abruptly resigned this weekciting his personal struggle with Alzheimer’s. Orphaned in Korea, Shin was adopted by an American soldier and brought home after the Korean war. He grew up, studied hard and became a public school teacher before running for state Senate in 1998.

His seat will most likely be filled by State Representative Marko Liias, who’s seat would then become vacant until someone is appointed. The Snohomish County Democrats get to pick the names that will then be decided on by the Snohomish County Council.

All and all, it has already caused some shuffling of committee assignments (see today’s post on Ranker), but it should not affect the balance of power within the Senate, where Republicans (with the help of two Democratic turncoats) hold the majority.

Tomorrow, I will share a little insider baseball, as our corner of the state was host to several candidates for state party chair. As always, stay tuned!



  1. LOL Riley! Of course you did.

  2. Riley… please don’t reinforce and foster false preceptions of the public. Referring to “…the former boys club…” falsely suggests that the liberal men on Bham city council made any such effort to suppress female influence on Bham city council. The cold, true facts are that the number of women on council is based on whether any women decided to file for the position, at which point they are fast tracked with nearly zero opposition or obsticles and then, in Cathy’s case, nominated and voted for chair. Bellingham political power structure has always fairly embraced Louise Bjornsen, Barbara Ryan, Kelli Linville, Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, Cristine Gregoire, and even helped choose Kathy Kersher over Dan McShane. If women don’t happen to file for the seats, of course they will not be present, while we are distracted trying to choose between Suzan DelBene, Darcy Burner, and Laura Ruderman for our new congressional seat. It is inflamatory to use the term “boy’s club”, like the way people try and use ironic racism speech to prove they aren’t racist. There is zero glass ceiling on women’s effect of Bellingham politics. They can show up and be put right to the top.

    • I think that it is fair to refer to an organization that is all men as a “Boys Club” no matter what the reasons for it. A football team in the NFL composed entirely of men is a “boys club” even though women can’t play on the team.

      But you do make some good points about our history of electing women in this town.

      • “Boys club” is a term used by feminists.

        To be consistent you have to use the term “girls club” if the council was composed of females.

      • I proudly identify as a feminist and am more than willing to use that term, and, if we ever get a council entirely composed of women, I will make a banner called “Girls Club” and put it up on the blog whenever I talk about the council. ’cause that would be awesome.

    • Huey makes the false statement that women are fast tracked and elected because they are women. They get elected because they’re the best candidate in the race.

      This isn’t just a local thing – studies across the US have shown that when they run, women win their race at roughly the same rate as a man.

      The same studies also show that women need to be persuaded to run. That’s why we have women on the Bellingham City Council: people asked them to run. Without a meaningful effort to recruit women for public office in our region, we’d just have men stepping forward on their own to run and we’d have, well – a boys club. Nobody benefits from that. With 51% of the population women, we all benefit from fair representation. The number of women on the Bellingham City Council won’t be notable until we hit 5 council members. Only then will we have achieved what men on the council have always had: disproportionate representation.

      Hats off to Jack and Terry on their vote!

      Also – odd that Huey seems to criticize the recent race in the 1st Congressional District. Given the number of races in US History that were between/among 2 or more men…why should 3 women not square off in a primary? I’ve never once heard someone say “gee, we’ve got 2 qualified MEN in this race – they shouldn’t run against each other. We are distracted by that!”

  3. Hi Riley;

    Just wanna ask, while things are maybe calmer for a bit…. Why does your Blog message come in to my email inbox, so “odd”?

    See the screenshot attached. It has been this way since the beginning.

    I can imagine three “places” which might be causing this: * My own mail settings. * Your setup for the Blog at WordPress. * Something in the middle, about the way the message is transferred??

    Any ideas?

    Marian Beddill

    • Not really sure. I’ll look into it on my side. If I had to take a guess, I would say that wordpress sends it out as HTML (image based emails) and your inbox has trouble processing that but I’ll see if I can do anything on my end to make it easier. For a while, Ken Mann was receiving my emails in French, so who knows.

    • I’ve changed my subscription settings so that it will send everyone a plain text email. We will test it out and see how it works.

  4. Goldman Sachs is nothing more than investor. They buy and sell when they feels it is appropriate. Just like Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway owns BNSF for an investment.

  5. Goldman Sachs was a significant investor – they owned 49 to 51% of SSA Marine.

    It is not surprising that they have sold their shares. I shared on my blog on Aug. 10th about a report Goldman Sachs issued in late July stating that ‘The Window is Closing on Coal’:

    “They are seeing a sharp decline in overseas demand and are projecting significant price declines through 2017. For the longer term they see a peak in seaborne demand by 2020, with a gradual erosion of coal’s “current position atop the fuel mix for global power generation.”

    “…Clearly, this report is telling us that the proposed coal port at Cherry Point does not make economic sense even to the analysts employed by the majority (or near majority) owner of SSA Marine. Timing is crucial, they say. Projects ready to go now (“year 0″) just might turn a profit. Projects that need 5 years to secure permits, complete construction will likely not be profitable.”

  6. I echo davidm58 on this. The activism here in Whatcom County had little to do with Goldman Sach’s departure. Coal has its own problems, in part due to the Obama administration’s regulatory favoring of natural gas over coal. This causes a reduction in planned coal use. The decline of coal’s price/ton has a lot to do with the decline of coal-burning electric power plants in the U. S. And for that, you can thank increased success for natural gas producers getting at unconventional methane…Yes, the F-word: “tracking”.

    There are no pretty, utopian answers here.

    Abe Jacobson, Bellingham

  7. As one of the full-time activists working to stop the coal terminal, I agree and disagree, Abe. In 2008-10 when SSA started sniffing around, they were told by Craig Cole, et al., that because of the recession, a large terminal shipping a fossil fuel would sail through because we were desperate for jobs. Well, here we are in 2014, and as far as we know, there’s no one even working on the DEIS. 12,000 substantive comments later, the EIS process came grinding to a halt under the weight of identified impacts that must be studied. Whether it was the prospect of getting past the EIS and years of appeals, or just the remarkable speed at which the bubble burst in Chinese demand for coal imports, opposition played a key role in slowing down the process until market forces could adjust and the quick profits for energy and rail giants dissipated.

    • Point taken.. and thanks for all the great work by you and all the anti-coal activists in this area. I did not mean to belittle the work that was done by local activists.

      The challenge is to keep the greenhouse-worst carbon fuels (coal, bitumen oil) in the ground until all CO2 from burning carbon can be permanently sequestered. That technology may never pan out, by the way. In the meantime, the natural-gas boom has reduced coal’s competitiveness. The coal-export projects are just a part of this challenge; there is also bitumen-oil export (like the proposed Alberta-to-Vancouver pipeline upgrade).

      Abe Jacobson

  8. Abe, you’re right about no easy, utopian answers. It is likely that the fracking gas bubble will burst in the near future ( When it does, it’s likely that demand for coal will increase once again. We all need to find ways to reduce consumption, rather than expecting that a clean energy source is going to be available to meet current levels of consumption.

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