Posted by: sweeneyblog | December 24, 2014

Riley’s Top 5 Whatcom Political Stories in 2014

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.

Rep. Jason Overstreet

Rep. Jason Overstreet

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.

Alabama St.

Proposed C-Curb

4) Roosevelt Neighborhood Opposes C-Curb on Alabama StreetHundreds 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.



  1. We bought the medical examiner building and we are going to clean up the extremely minor and expected contamination ASAP.

    • Bought the medical examiner building . . . from the medical examiner.

    • The public transaction which profited a private citizen and removed their private responsibility for cleaning up the extreme toxic pollution on their private property
      was too close to favoritism to be comfortable to me.

      But it wasn’t nearly as disgusting as our Mr. Executive hosting an SSA operative and purchasing his poor judgment long term,
      on staff and at public expense.
      Maybe we need a list of the Year’s Top Five Spin Jobs just to add some relevancy to the year’s summary.
      I’d head the list with the explanations offered for those two smooth moves,
      put Mr. Ericksen’s lunch pail pleadings in at number three,
      the Public/Private partnership established to ramrod GPT’s coal dump past county protocols and land use laws next
      and end with the nonsensical justifications for Irish Commando Capitalists working locally on a Granary resurrection.
      Thanks to Riley for his somewhat independent sense of what really matters and the blog he rides in on.

  2. My pick: County PDS granted permits allowing the refineries to move 500 potentially exploding crude trains per year through our most populated area, without benefit of input from the public. [I live in the blast zone.] Bigger story: not one word of protest from the county council, or mayors, or city councils, or ….

    • Over reacting again, lighten up!

      • Uh, Wayne, if someone lives in a blast zone and they complain, it is hardly the same as you getting your panties in a twist over much smaller matters.

      • Hey, does anyone know what happened to Wayne’s alter ego, the esteemed Patti Brooks??? I thought she was going to quit KGMI and go on to great things!

  3. 2 & 4 were worthy of mention, the others weren’t

    • As I said before, Wayne, get your own blog and stop trolling Riley’s.

      • Surely Wayne’s blog is the excavator?

      • Hear, hear!

      • Silence, Silence!

  4. I’m not sure Luanne VanWerven will be much better than Jason Overstreet.

    Wayne- You should start your own blog. There aren’t very many conservative blogs in Whatcom county. Yours could easily be the best in the county. And it would be much better than having your “blog” be the comments against the Political Junkie. I just made my own political blog a few days ago. Since it is extremely difficult to make my name a link, here is the web address of my blog:

    Happy Holidays!

    • James, as soon as you get rolling with your blog, I’ll add it to the blog roll on the right.

      • Thank you!

    • Jason Overstreet is a nasty, ambitious piece of work and will run for national office, wait for it. I had a short conversation with him a few years ago at the Lynden Fair and I know what kind of a slime ball he is.

      • Obviously you don’t like people of faith.

      • You are right, but why do you think he’ll run for national office? He didn’t even run for reelection in 2014. And what is there to be afraid of when he does run for national office? No one would vote for him.

  5. Forgot to say-

    Since I only started it a few days ago, my political blog only has one post, and it isn’t very developed. It’s boring for now.

  6. I would add the little noted story of Walter Haugen and Wayne Farber consummating their nuptials on the steps of City Hall, They both looked fetching!

    • Careful! My SO (significant other) will find out.

      • Oh Walter, please don’t divulge “our little secret”. LOL! 🙂

  7. Hi Riley, My name is Betsy Gross. You and Jayne Freudenberger and I had a conversation last fall in a parking lot about this story…we were the “Uppity Women” (PeaceHealth’s opinion of us) who challenged PeaceHealth to put their decisions where their values lie. And with very satisfactory results! Thanks for your support; I really appreciate it. A lot of vulnerable senior citizens now are ensured of needed services as a result of all of our efforts. Happy holidays to you, and to a better 2015! Betsy Gross

    Sent from my iPhone


  8. Riley, go back and look at the public backlash against your sensationalizing of gun owners around the time of the pride parade and read all of the comments from gun carrying members of the LGBTQ community. You created the story and the sensation, it wasn’t your best piece of journalism and really didn’t paint your blog practices in an ethical light.

    • Thanks Nick, your are right Riley was just stirring the pot.

    • I’m sorry you feel this way, but as I noted in the article, I didn’t create this story – Occupy Bellingham refusing to march with the Open Carry folks was the impetus for the story.

  9. “There are proud LGBTQ and gun advocates doing their best to bridge communities and break stereotypes. In many ways, my perspective on the open carry folks had been as limited as many of the outdated notions about gays and lesbians held by parade protesters and for that, I apologize.” You said this Riley, now you are saying there was a “furor”? The furor was artificial and concocted entirely by you and your closest rabble rousers… So much for “work(ing) on bridging these cultural barriers, as I (Riley) hope our discussion already has.”. What a hypocrisy to even have included this story, especially in the light which you have here Sweeney.

    • Thanks Nick for pointing out the Riley is the definition of hypocrite.

    • First – are you irritated that I covered the Open Carry story or that I included it in my top five?

      I did not concoct the furor over this move – I got wind of this story when the Occupy Bellingham folks decided to pull out of the parade because the Open Carry folks were going to be marching – that’s when I decided to cover the story. It was one of my most read series this year – breaking records on this blog for most comments and most shares – so I included it because it was controversial and did get people worked up.

      Now, writing about this issue has been a learning experience for myself and many of my readers – again, another reason to include it in my top five.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: