Posted by: sweeneyblog | July 7, 2014

Council Meeting Preview: Mental Health Court, Water and Rentals

In my constant efforts to improve operations here at the Political Junkie, I’m demo-ing a new feature: The Council Meeting Preview. In these articles, I will look ahead to see what the Whatcom County Council and Bellingham City Council are discussing this week so you can attend and weigh in if you wish. If you find this valuable, you can always toss us a few bucks in our digital tip jar here.

Whatcom County Council – Tomorrow at 7 p.m.

The big fish in this week’s pond is the water plan. Council President Carl Weimer has made it a top priority to push the county into developing a plan to handle water issues over the next ten years. In the spring, the council passed a resolution directing Public Works to update the “Whatcom County Coordinated Water Systems Plan” and this Tuesday, Public Works staff will report back on their progress, as will County Executive Louws – who will share his thoughts on the process.

Carl Weimer

Carl Weimer – Not wearing ballistic armor plates

Weimer sees outreach as the most critical part of developing a water plan. He laid out his thoughts in a recent blog post, “People need to understand their legal obligations, be told why those obligations exist, how to most easily and effectively meet those obligations, and have advanced warning that if they don’t meet their obligations there will be penalties.”

Another issue to be debated, the sheriff department has requested a slew of budget appropriations. Buried in there is over half a million dollars for implementing mental health court and housing programs for the mentally ill.

That has been one of the priorities of the Right Size Jail coalition and a key component to reducing the burden on our jail system. Mental health court provides another avenue for those with serious mental health problems who tangle with the law to be handled through a medical care system rather than incarceration. Bravo for these efforts and I hope the council approves them swiftly.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is a request to use grant funding to buy ballistic armor plates in that package.

Also, the council will continue to debate the slaughterhouse ordinance. Haven’t we finished dealing with that yet?

Bellingham City Council – Today at 7 p.m.

The City Council will be holding a work session, debating three different versions of a rental licensing program. You can read the options here, here and here. Most of the debate seems to center around enforcement and inspections – who will carry them out, how many will be conducted a year and the like.

Other than a brief discussion of some non-Alabama Street-related traffic improvements, that will be it for the council this evening.



  1. This looks to be a helpful new feature. Thanks.

  2. I think that you are omitting one of the most serious and highly concerning City of Bellingham agenda items:

    Consideration of Application for Bureau of Justice Grant in the amount of $25,834

    • I can’t wait to hear the justification for the Bureau of Justice grant to tap into this most questionable source of data for local use.
      I’m guessing that we’ll hear a lot of promises about how it won’t be abused.


      • That article seemed designed to ease the concerns of those who were unconcerned in the first place.
        Issues raised at the last meeting included some difficult ones like FOIA access,
        the accuracy of that ‘slew’ of information and how commercially available – social media sites? – it all really is,
        and exactly how all this data will affect the actions of the cops who access it.
        How will it be used in court, how will citizens know if their info is correct and how will it be edited to fit the truth if it’s not?
        There’s never been a secret data base that hasn’t been abused by those entrusted with its use.

  3. Great idea, Riley.

  4. I think this preview will be a really good addition. For instance, your agenda mention of proposal for addition of in-jail mental health resources along with recent plans for its removal from Bellingham and enlargement may well be taking us closer to the abusive cycle described in the June 23, 2014 New Yorker article “Get out of Jail Inc.” The cycle of low income and indigent people being kept incarcerated because of their inability to keep up with fines or make it to court dates is real and growing. We have to be watchful of industrial offers to provide low bid mental health services as they now do uniforms, bedding and food in our jail.
    Thanks again for your “heads up”.

  5. In an outlandish report Environment Washington accused locally owned Brooks Mfg. of dumping over a million pounds of toxic waste into the Nooksack River AND its reports showed Brooks was the number 4 polluter in the United States. (See their environment America Center report here on page “Appendix 49”) KGMI repeats the report on the air as fact barely 24 hours after the “Environment Washington”press release comes out (see the press release here)

    The Truth:
    The Federal Environmental Protection Agency and Brooks Mfg state the figure is One Pound of toxic waste, that’s right one pound in fact the Environment Washington report is actually
    One Million Twenty Seven Thousand Seven Hundred Ninety Six Pounds in error
    Was it a mistake by Environment Washington and their research organ “Environment America Center.Org” or just more corporate bashing by a zealot green activist organization?? You decide…

    Brooks Mfg, the LOCAL small corporation that employs about 65 people with family wage jobs; did not even get a courtesy call from KGMI, for a response to Environment Washington’s News Release BEFORE the misinformation of the story was published on the air waves. KGMI did apologize on Monday after the Friday Morning report. But sadly Environment Washington has not apoloziged or removed the report from their website.

    So the question becomes does KGMI give a “pass” on any story that the Environmental Priorities Coalition Members produce and not on others? You Decide… It seems KGMI might want to let Environment Washington know of their error and report the response of Environment Washington to the public.

    The conclusion… In the ideal of media without an agenda someone would have been fired for such shoddy reporting. In the present day we must each be our own fact finders. Its sad that the press would rather uplift government and bash good corporate neighbors like zealot environmental groups seem so willing to do. It seems that Enviroment Washington is being very selective in its mission of making the state a better place to live.

  6. Environmental Priorities Coalition Current Members:

    1. American Rivers
    2. Audubon Washington
    3. Cascade Bicycle Club
    4. Climate Solutions
    5. Conservation Northwest
    6. Earth Ministry
    7. Environment Washington 😦
    8. Fuse 😦
    9. Futurewise 😦
    10. The Lands Council
    11. League of Women Voters of Washington 😦
    12. NW Energy Coalition
    13. Sierra Club Washington 😦
    14. Surfrider Foundation
    15. The Nature Conservancy
    16. Transportation Choices Coalition
    17. Washington Conservation Voters 😦
    18. Washington Environmental Council
    19. Washington Toxics Coalition
    20. Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition
    21. Zero Waste Washington

    • Oh how cute, little unsmiley faces so we can know without a doubt who Farber really hates. The League of Women Voters? Really?

      • I don’t hate anybody but I am unhappy with these NGO’s promoting the UN AGENDA 21 SCAM! 🙂 Is that better Nancy what ever you last name is? I thought there was a new policy in place where we had to use our real names. Using your only first name is in violation of the spirit of Riley’s “new” rule because it allows you to comment behind a mask. you Progs are always good for a laugh. 🙂

      • Agenda 21! Benghazi! IRS! Boo!

  7. Just because a company is local does not mean it is above the law, ethical or moral behavior, or even common sense. Local businesses are just as prone to cost overruns, fraud, theft and cheating as any other business. Buying local is a good idea IF it is the third priority. The first priority is honest dealing. The second priority is quality. [If you want to switch these two around, fine.]

    • OK, for those “slow on the draw” I will repeat the facts.

      “The Truth: The Federal Environmental Protection Agency and Brooks Mfg state the figure is One Pound of toxic waste, that’s right one pound, in fact the Environment Washington report is actually One Million Twenty Seven Thousand Seven Hundred Ninety Six Pounds in error”

      • I did not address the poundage mistake.

    • The fact is remains Environment Washington singled out a local (or national) company by using a bogus report. “Environment Washington accused locally owned Brooks Mfg. of dumping over a million pounds of toxic waste into the Nooksack River AND its reports showed Brooks was the number 4 polluter in the United States. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency and Brooks Mfg state the figure is One Pound of toxic waste, that’s right one pound in fact the Environment Washington report is actually
      One Million Twenty Seven Thousand Seven Hundred Ninety Six Pounds in error”.

  8. Per Riley’s blurb on Carl Weimer, I used the link and read Carl’s latest blog post and this sentence stood out. ” . . . people that are currently under some sort of rules that they may not even realize exist. Things like septic system owners, people who live in critical area zones, and small hobby farmers.”

    This seems to me to be quite disingenuous, as the greatest threat to water quality is from big ag and forestry. What I see coming down the pike in the water issue is thinly disguised racism against the Lummis and other tribes based on water for industrial agriculture instead of for salmon restoration.

    Focusing on septic tanks, critical area zones and small hobby farmers when the real problem is illegal water taking, which is then put back into rivers and soils full of toxic chemicals from dairies and industries, is just a clever trick.

    • Walter, I agree with you on this one. “pigs do fly”!

  9. There is an ancillary issue on the Whatcom Farmers Listserv (it is a Google group if you are interested). Two groups, Friends of Skagit County and Whidbey Environmental Action Network, are at loggerheads over Hearing Examiner action as it relates to preserving farmland vs. preserving habitat. There are many permutations and the supporters are crawling out of the woodwork. Here is my reply. I think there are points relevant to the water issue in Whatcom County, as well as the wrong focus in planning.

    I thought this was an interesting sentence in Ellen Bynum’s reply:

    “Pointing fingers at only agriculture and forestry is neither fair nor useful . . . .”

    The problem is not that agriculture and forestry are being singled out. The problem is that industrial agriculture and forestry are not paying their fair share to mitigate the damage they cause. Another problem is that every time someone even mentions laying the blame at big polluters who have a certain cachet as “family farms,” supporters rally to the cause and denounce the “wicked environmentalists.”

    Remember, there are NO sacred cows. If you are a “family farm” or you are a fourth-generation logger, you still do NOT have the right to pollute.

    On the restoration vs. economy issue, we will have to make that choice soon enough and deeper recession and collapse is likely anyway. [Why do you think I wrote two books on this subject?] When I viewed an online instructional video from Washington state on planning and “sustainable” development, the planning concerns were prioritized. First priority was economic, then social, and only then environmental. In other words, the whole focus of planning in the state of Washington is still on the economy over social concerns, with the environmental concerns only picking up the scraps of what’s left over. This is ass backwards. This is what got us in this mess in the first place.

    The real environmentalists accept economic downturns and downsizing as the price to pay for clean water, air and soil. As many of you might know, in 2009 there were fewer greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere than the year before. This was because of the recession of 2008-2009. As the worldwide economy improved in late 2009 and 2010, the pace of GHG’s picked up again. Now we are doing better economically, but guess what? GHG’s are increasing.

    No matter how much you try to save “family farms” and “family logging” through business as usual, you are condemning your granchildren to a life of asthma, diabetes, pestilence and famine.

    There are solutions. I have two books full of them. BUT you cannot continue to pollute.

    • Sounds like we should ban hybrid vehicles with these highly polluting batteries.

  10. Good idea, Riley. Saves us lazy residents from having to check the agenda ourselves and alerts us to activities that might have serious consequences.


  11. Lotsa stuff happened at last night’s council meeting but nothing is written up in the Herald that I could find.
    Gene Knutson did a great Sgt. Friday impersonation where he reminded the audience that Bellingham’s finest sometimes don’t come home and his sternest warning that citizens are welcome to disagree with police on some issues but not others.
    The highlight reel of public commentary with our own Gaythia Weis providing by far the best example of public speaking and Mr. Conoboy expressing his disgust at the Desert Stormification of the city police
    and then the guy that looked straight at the very likable Police Chief and scolded him for the Sunset Avenue death and debacle.
    I had to feel for the cops a little since they were sitting ducks for criticism they probably never hear face to face.
    In the end the cops were requested to forgo the private database contract and find some other use for that money but only after all the well-off and never marginalized councilors had reiterated their unwavering trust in the department – go figure.
    The whole hearing was a prime example of the citizens educating the council and the police both since they’re the ones who brought hard information nobody else had bothered to uncover.

    • Good comment. I agree with 95% of it.

  12. Riley,

    To maintain your credibility (if your care) you need to delete “Nancy’s” comment. She needs to identify herself by using her last name, just like the rest of us do. man up, take charge. The Irish are known for standing their ground on principle. Make us proud.

    • What a crybaby. My name is Nancy Wiebe, are you happy now?

      • Why didn’t you comply with the RULES in the first place?
        You have the typical Liberal “entitlement mindset.

        I had many of your “fellow travelers” complaining about me not using my real (full) name so the lovely and gracious Riley changed the rules so that I could no longer do that. Somehow that was not applied to you. Typical Liberal do as I say not as I do mentality.

    • Just now getting back to this (having to work full-time and all that)- I’m trying my best to maintain the rules for everyone, liberal and conservative. I’m updating Nancy’s comments to include her name.

      • Thankyou Riley. You get a gold star. Nancy gets to set in the corner with her dunce hat on. 🙂

    • Wayne, I have a life, as you apparently do not, since you police this blog constantly. I missed Riley’s new rule and didn’t add my last name to my profile in time to suit you. Can I now point out when you insult people who are not of your right wing ilk when you comment on Riley’s blog? How, for instance, do I “set in the corner” now? You really seem to hate it when people come after you with the truth, especially women!!! “Set in the corner with her dunce hat on.” Did Sarah Palin write that for you?????

      • RESPONSE to Nancy “don’t call me Wiebe”

        I have a wonderful life (DO YOU?) but someone has to TRY to keep you people straight (which is a big job).

        You did? Right!

        FEEL FREE, it is still (for a while longer) a FREE country.

        Look up the word TYPOGRAPHICAL error in the dictionary if you have one.

        NO ONE has proved me wrong yet including you.

        Actually Sarah did not. My guess is I would rather look at her than you.

        Why didn’t you capitalize your last name? As it is now it is still an alias or just BAD GRAMMAR.

      • Wow, what a petty little man you are, Wayne…

      • Nancy NO-NAME (formally) Wiebe

        At least I don’t hurl random insults at you.

      • Oh yes you have, just like you do to everyone else.

      • You reap what you sow Nancy. i have always responded to your insults not initiated them. The same goes for Walter Haugen.

  13. Nancy – You have to realize Wayne worked on Barry Goldwater’s campaign in Florida in 1964 (source: a previous exchange between him and me in the Bellingham Herald). His rightwing viewpoint goes waaaaayyyyy back.

    • Barry Goldwater would have been a better choice than LB “bomb the gooks” Johnson.

  14. He and I is preferable to him and me in this case.

    Barry was pro-gay rights. Is that right-wing?

    • In my post, “between” is a preposition, not a conjunction. Therefore the proper use is “between him and me.” Object pronoun, not subject pronoun. Examples: He and I said something is correct. There was a conversation between him and me. Sentence fragments obey the same rules of grammar as whole sentences.

      Oh and by the way, Barry Goldwater is a proxy for rightwing nutcase thinking. It has been so for 50 years. You and I went over this already.

  15. Wayne – And yes, I can see your argument BUT a single position that was “ahead of its time” does not mitigate Barry Goldwater’s overall failures.

    • What failures? He was a founder of the Sierra Club. He was an Air Force two star General. He was a five-term US Senator. He was a successful businessman.

      A little more impressive than growing pot in Ferndale.

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