Ralph Schwartz and Samantha Wohlfeil offered their “Top 10 Whatcom Political Stories” in 2014. Take a gander at their list, they have some good picks.
In a sign of the ever-constricting economics of newsrooms, some of these stories (most notably the City Council vacancy, the newly appointed Justice Montoya-Lewis, and the PeaceHealth tax) only warranted one or two 350-word articles in the Herald, and these were the most important stories of the year. Just to be perfectly clear, Ralph and Samantha do a good job, but with dwindling space for news in our daily paper, they can only do so much.
That said, here is my picks for the top five political news stories of 2014. Obviously, Seth versus Doug captivated everyone but here are some other stories that didn’t make the Herald’s list.
1) Rep. Jason Overstreet is pushed out/unexpectedly resigns. Local gold-enthusiast and incumbent legislator Jason Overstreet announced his retirement from public office rather suddenly. His calls for WWU President Bruce Shepard to resign were not well received by the Republican leadership and long-time party activist Luanne Van Werven was tapped to run in his stead.
2) The first retail marijuana store in the state opens in Bellingham. We don’t often get the spotlight but when Top Shelf Marijuana opened at 8am on July 8th, we had a flurry of attention. With only one other store (Seattle) opening on the first legal day of Pot Sales, Bellingham got to bask in a green glow. I was there on the scene reporting on the chaos.
3) PeaceHealth shuts down services to vulnerable seniors, blames Obamacare. When PeaceHealth decided to shut down their Adult Day Health Center they placed the blame on budget woes from the Affordable Care Act – saying that fewer people are seeking expensive hospital treatment since they now have insurance to seek preventative and palliative care earlier in illness. Which is a bad thing? Oh, and the Bellingham branch of PeaceHealth pocketed $39 million in profit in 2012.
4) Roosevelt Neighborhood Opposes C-Curb on Alabama Street. Hundreds of Roosevelt neighborhood residents rallied at a neighborhood meeting, protested on the city streets and lobbied the city council to keep a C-Curb from blocking most left turns on Alabama Street. In the end, they were partially successful, blocking some of the C-curb from disrupting their neighborhood – although they are still installing one in front of my street.
5) Open Carry Advocates March in Bellingham Pride Parade. In the light of multiple mass shootings in the last couple of years, Open Carry advocates applied to march in the Bellingham Pride Parade, a move that generated a little furor – especially after they planned their social event at the same time and place as the Pride Family picnic. Gun advocates denied any attempt at intimidation – but in the end, they simply staffed a booth at the Pride festival without actually marching.
Honorable Mentions: The county tried to buy a toxic morgue from its own coroner, a move that is almost as incestuous as it is environmentally troubling and the County Planning department hires the former lead permit guy for the Gateway Pacific Terminal as a senior planner.
As always, you can support alternative citizen media by clicking here. Merry Christmas and stay tuned for a 2015 preview in the next couple of days.