Posted by: sweeneyblog | January 11, 2015

Dan Robbins Attempts to Rewrite History, Receives a Ralph Black Eye

There I was, peacefully watching the Seahawks game in a small Pizza parlor in Port Townsend when my phone starts blowing up with emails from Rob Fix and Dan Robbins. Loyal Readers may remember this part of my 2015 political preview on Friday:

Local developer (and unsuccessful Charter Review candidate) Ralph Black and labor leader (and unsuccessful Charter Review candidate) Chris Johnson. Black is being supported by Dan Robbins and Rob Fix . . . insert your own “The Fix is In” joke here.

Yesterday, Fix emailed me to say that he has never endorsed Black – so naturally, I red-lined the sentence in my blog and checked my notes. Upon review, I found that Robbins had said that Fix and he were supporting Black. Assuming that Robbins was overzealous, I let Fix know and scheduled a blog update for clarification.

Then I got this email from Dan Robbins:

robbinsdeception copy

This is where Robbins story falls apart. The event was the “What About Those Promises” after party hosted by Lummi Nation. He was taking Ralph Black around and introducing him as Rob Fix and Dan Robbins choice for Port – I watched him do this twice and two other people at the event recall the same thing. I checked the story with them after it happened and again before this post.

Dan Robbins

Dan Robbins

Do I believe that Rob Fix has endorsed Ralph Black? No, he always struck me as a smart and effective communicator – I believe that Robbins was merely speaking out of turn. But I stand by my reporting of Robbins shilling for Black. So here is the real question, what makes Dan Robbins willing to lie repeatedly to avoid being associated with Black?

I know we have a hard time calling people liars in Whatcom. It is rude and we prefer a whole range of euphemisms. “He misspoke,” or “that’s just not accurate”. But in this case, I’m standing by my use of the term.

This isn’t the first time Robbins has crossed lines and then back-peddled to cover his tracks. During Robbins’ election in 2013, he met with fellow candidate Ken Bell and Rob Fix in the Railroad Avenue Woods Coffee location and tried to persuade them that Renata Kowalczyk was a scary communist (much of that material was regurgitated in a Whatcom Excavator post here). Unfortunately Kowalczyk herself was sitting a few tables away and heard the whole thing. They saw her when they walked out. When a Kowalczyk supporter confronted Robbins about it, he denied everything.

It is disappointing when our public officials feel a need to deceive the public. I’ve filed a public records request to get more details, so this story should continue to develop.



  1. This is what video oppo is for.
    In this issue, I have to say, you get the benefit of MY doubt, Riley! Thanks for sharing!

    • I wish I had my video camera on me at the time. But this is what I got and I stand by it.

  2. Certainly careless use of the term ‘liar’ is deplorable. By equal measure ‘truth-telling’ is admirable. The issue of support or endorsement of another individual seems minor, if not inconsequential. However, it seems Dan Robbins dost protest too much, and that draws our attention. One cannot help but wonder why someone would contradict oneself over an issue that would otherwise not garner much interest. Now you’ve gotten my attention. – Mike

  3. Definitely a bigger timier take on Politics in Bellingham than Most other towns I’ve lived in. I mean Why the Cover-up? Old White money’s trying for a toehold in Whatcom County as well, possibly? Think we got enough Country Clubbers and Sons Of Lynden in positions of influence around here. Nothing AgAiNsT that so much as FoR Balanced Representation.

  4. Robbins had a reputation going in of a rather fearless iconoclast and outspoken skeptic with a good business head. Not exactly prone to bureaucratic capture. I’ve been pretty disappointed in performance so far.

  5. A lie is lie, and they are far too frequent around here, in part because no one is willing to call it out. You have documented the facts and circumstances, and it would be a disservice to the public not to state the objective truth. Thanks.

  6. Riley
    My Wife and I were at the party before the event and unfortunately due to family commitments we had to leave half way through the presentation, we were not at the after party. Not sure who was being introduced but it wasn’t me. Ralph Black

    • It may have been at the before party. Either way, i stand by Dan Robbins statements supporting you. Thank you for adding some context.

  7. Riley, Thanks for, not only good reporting but for keeping track of your documentation so someone like Mr. Robbins doesn’t get away with saying that he never said that. Even with my fixed retirement income I’ll be sending a donation your way. Thanks again.

  8. “I know we have a hard time calling people liars in Whatcom. It is rude and we prefer a whole range of euphemisms. ‘He misspoke,’ or ‘that’s just not accurate’. But in this case, I’m standing by my use of the term.”

    The problem is NOT calling people liars, but that people ARE HESITANT to call people liars. Think about it. Gary Jensen and his whole cabal in Ferndale have done FAR more damage to the public infrastructure, individual rights, and skyrocketing property taxes than me calling him a liar. [Of course he also calls me a liar and even gets his poodle – Sam Taylor – to do so multiple times. So what?]

    Really Riley – the only time you should refrain from calling someone a liar is when they are unsnapping the catch on their holster.

    • Walter, I’ve never called you a liar. You’re just wrong about most things.

      For instance, you declared Ferndale would be bankrupt in 2015.

      Meanwhile, you say things that are wrong pretty frequently. For instance, your comment about our infrastructure. The last I checked we have put millions of dollars into crucial City corridors over the last decade. Many, many more millions of dollars than at any other time. Main Street, Church Road, Vista Drive, Thornton Street, Barrett Road, Second Avenue in Griffintown. All done recently and under the watch of the current mayor and thanks to the hard work of a dedicated staff that has made strong cases for state and federal funding for our community. Washington Street to come in 2015. Award winning water and wastewater treatment facilities.

      Skyrocketing property taxes? That’s literally impossible in Washington state, where the amount collected can only ever be raised by 1 percent per year. Ferndale still has about 3 percent banked capacity, so the City hasn’t even taken all it could, whereas other jurisdictions in Whatcom County take that 1 percent annually. I’d argue their property taxes aren’t skyrocketing, either. Most jurisdictions see more substantial increase in property taxes because voters have purposely approved measures to increase their own taxes for some project or initiative.

      Our voters, for instance, approved a smaller amount of funding to complete the new library project. None of that matters to you because you don’t live in our community.

      See, the difference between calling you a liar and wrong are very different, and I can respectfully show you why you’re wrong on here without immature name calling.

      I’m sorry you are so easily offended.


      • Well now you are lying Sam.

      • Here is a blog post from the Bellingham Herald where Sam Taylor says I am lying and here is the weblink to the article:

        Really Sam, this is too easy.

        [Begin quote]
        Sam Taylor • Top Commenter • Assistant City Administrator at City of Ferndale (Government)

        Walter Haugen – You wrote:

        “There is quite a difference between ‘protecting the city’ and passing an ordinance to seize the Rojzsa’s home under the phony pretext of ‘nonconforming uses.’ ”

        This is a lie.

        There is nothing about the nonconforming use chapter that would allow the City to seize anyone’s property. Period. The explanation for what the ordinance does is above.

        But residents of Ferndale don’t have to take my word for it (thanks, LaVar!), they can read the whole thing for themselves right here:

        Reply • Like • June 17, 2014 at 8:19am
        [End quote]

        Allow me to point out a couple of things.
        1) Notice the time stamp on this post. Sam Taylor gets paid about $80-$100K a year (including benefits) and his main job seems to be trolling the web and making scurrilous attacks on anyone who questions Ferndale Mayor Gary Jensen’s policies. This is why we call him Gary’s Poodle. The other parts of his job seem to be putting roadblocks up against the Rojsza’s efforts to finish their house (the Clocktower) and spinning information about City programs. This is why we call him the Disinformation Officer.
        2) After repeatedly calling out Sam on his using public dollars to attack me and others, Gary Jensen has fully supported him in his efforts. This costs the City a lot of money to try and shut me up; AND it is not just me they try to shut up.
        3) I do all my work for free. I also admit it when I attack someone. Just ask Wayne Farber.
        4) Thanks to the efforts of Sam Taylor, Gary Jensen, Jori Burnett, Greg Young, Jon Mutchler, Paul Ingram and others who abuse their power, the City of Ferndale had to settle a couple of the lawsuits against the Rojsza’s for $130,000. This was AFTER the City spend tens of thousands of dollars fighting protracted legal battles – all on the city dime of course. Of course the City didn’t want to settle because the waste of money didn’t come out of Gary’s or Sam’s or Greg’s or Jon’s pockets. These people think the taxpayers of Ferndale have an infinite pool of cash to pay for lawsuits. However, the insurance company realized they could have been on the hook for millions of dollars and so cut bait.

        As Riley pointed out in his original article, calling someone a liar may seem harsh but it is also necessary.

      • Correction: 2) After I repeatedly called out Sam on his using public dollars to attack me and others, Gary Jensen has fully supported Sam in his efforts. [I make grammar errors sometimes too.]

      • Walter – As I have explained to you in the past, just because you lie in one comment doesn’t necessarily make you a habitual liar, so I wouldn’t necessarily call you a liar. But, when faced with documented evidence the contrary of your statements, you have willfully continued to say the same untrue things. At that point, that makes the statements a lie.

        I’m not sure why this is unclear to you.

        Just to be clear, because you’re saying inaccurate things again – the City spent $10,000 on a previous lawsuit due to a deductible with an old insurer that was no longer interested in participating in that process.

        We have a new insurer, and we have no deductible. No liability lawsuit will cost Ferndale taxpayers a dime from now on, and we’re extremely pleased with our current representation, which is designed to protect Ferndale taxpayers, of which you are not one.

      • Sam, I have a more favorable view of you and your service than Walter, but you walked right into something with him that can’t be undone with sophistry…indeed, his assertion that you have in fact called him a liar is not a semantic matter, which is how you’ve chosen to argue the point, but grammatical…I write for a living, and I can assure you that a jury of your peers (and all English language specialists) would say reasonably that you effectively called him a liar by calling his assertions lies…I wish it weren’t so…

      • Glenn – Hi there, thanks for the input! I always appreciate your perspective, truly.

        When I think on it really hard, I suppose I don’t have a problem with that terminology, because the fact is that I have worked really hard to be open and honest with Mr. Haugen and provided direct documentary evidence when his statements are false. He continues to say the same things. At that point, I thought it was polite to say those things are lies, not that he’s a liar. But you are probably right – there isn’t much of a difference. I guess he’s a liar by the dictionary definition.

        Truth and accuracy are important to me. As a reporter, I’ve had no problem in the past calling people a liar when I thought they were being one. I take this stuff very, very seriously. I really do think our communities prosper more with educated community dialogue.

        We’re not always going to agree on the legislative decisions in our communities, but at least we can try to better inform the dialogue. That’s always the goal.

        Thanks again for the feedback, Glenn.

      • I hear you Sam…I think I called Gary a liar in some way or another in the past, which I regret…I don’t think he’s either a liar or “corrupt.” I share Walter’s view of the Mayor’s approach to governing, with the exceptions I just mentioned. I believe the overall approach has been misguided, the fact that much has been done notwithstanding. But my differences are largely philosophical…Gary & I see the world, and democracy specifically differently…fair enough, he got elected mayor, I did not, that gives his efforts more merit than mine right off the bat:-) When you work for politicians, you’re in politics, even if it shouldn’t be so…I feel for you, I’ve been there…

  9. Reminds me of when Dan Robbins didn’t want anyone to criticize the port decisions, so he opposed making the meetings in the evening (because more people would come to the meetings). The whole point of open session was for people to criticize and provide input about the port decisions. I encourage anyone to go and criticize ANY port decision (even in the afternoon.)

    Now, we have this whole deal with commissioner Robbins. Dan Robbins just isn’t working for Whatcom County. It isn’t just him- it is the port in general! It is a part of our government that is simply failing.

    I really thank you for covering this. It is something that the public needed to know.

  10. I have had two incidences with Commissioner Robbins which gave me cause to question his integrity.

    The first time we interviewed candidate Robbins has began suggesting that there was something dark and nefarious in his challenger Renata Kowalczk’s past. I asked him directly if he had evidence of any problems she had in the past. Robbins could not name anything specific. Robbins was too comfortable with baseless insinuations for my taste.

    The second time is when Robbins did an interview on KGMI and he stated clearly that the local fishermen’s organization specifically asked him for his vote on lowering moorage rates in return for the fishermen’s support.

    This was a bold faced lie, as I was there for that meeting. I checked with all of the participants and they remembered no such offer of support for Robbins campaign conditioned upon a future vote from Robbins if he was elected.

    Robbins will lie, as I have seen him lie with my own eyes.

    Calling someone a liar seems pretty harsh, but it is far less harsh than electing a person with poor character that abuses us all.

  11. Looks like Mayor Jensen is getting a head start!!!

    • What do you mean?

      • He is out of the gate first on the upcoming port race. When you
        have a open seat it is smart to get your name out there before
        anybody else and he is well known..

  12. Below, is some relevant information relating to Walter Haugen’s comment regarding Ferndale City Clerk Sam Taylor’s characterizations of people’s comments they make in the comments sections in various media.

    The comment I’ve copied and pasted below is a comment I posted in the online Herald after Sam Taylor posted multiple comments in a particular Herald comment thread in December 2013, in which he repeatedly said that I “generally make statements that are not true.” I asked him numerous times to revise his comment about me but he did not do so. Instead, Sam Taylor chose to take things a step farther and came back onto the Herald comment thread (after my comment copied and pasted below) and posted an additional comment telling me that he went to his boss and other city employees and some city council members and they agreed with his statement about me. That really makes me wonder what Sam Taylor’s intent is in commenting to people online, as a City Clerk, in the manner that he often does. It seems counterproductive to what I would think his job entails.

    My comment in the Herald said this:
    Sam Taylor: I feel the need to reply to your last comment to me that you made on Sunday to try to clear my reputation, since you have continued to repeatedly claim that I “generally make statements that are not true.” I do wish however that you would have not continued your attack on my reputation so that instead we could have merely agreed to disagree. It’s surprising that a Communications person for a city would act in this manner when you say that part of your job is “engaging people in community conversation.” I would imagine that while you engage people in community conversation that you are not making allegations against them that have no basis. It seems so counterproductive to your supposed intent of engaging people, if that is really what your mission is in going on the Herald and responding to people’s comments.

    The bulk of your list of examples that you claim are examples of statements I have made that are untrue are actually opinions, except for a couple which I will address below. I am surprised you are not seeing that most of what you have tried to point out in your comment are simply my opinions, so perhaps you might want to re-read my comments again and hopefully you may agree. Such as when I said, “many people have questioned the size of the facility”, the term “many” which I used is a relative term. However, I would point out that when you say, “there’s little evidence to support that claim. There have been a few people”, I can assure you that when I used the term “many” that the number of people who have told me they questioned the size of the Ferndale Police Station is a lot more than “a few” as you state. It’s okay that you don’t agree with me about the needed size for a new police station facility, but it does not seem okay to me for you to allege that I have made a statement that is untrue.

    And when you also list as an example that I said, “building a much larger than necessary police station”, that is again my opinion, so I do not understand why you feel it’s okay to declare my statement is untrue.

    As for your listed example of my comment about the cost of the switch from river water to well water, here is my comment from Oct. 26th you are referring to: “Also, the city’s decision to switch to well water has been costly and required huge up-front expenses during a still-recovering economy. These costs were much more than the expected rate increases by the PUD, and that’s not even considering the extra burden of the costs incurred by the problematic hard water issues residents are experiencing. Also, what about the real cost that no one is talking about—whether the aquifer will be able to have enough water supply and will continue to have good water quality for Ferndale’s future, especially if a 48 million ton coal terminal joins the 2 existing Cherry Point refineries and the Intalco aluminum smelter?”

    You said that I left out important information making my statement misleading. Well, at least in this case your claims have downgraded, from me generally making statements that are not true, now down to me making misleading statements. That is an improvement. You wrote in your comment about that saying, “While the $5 million cost of the project is more expensive than $1 million in rate increases that were projected over a six-year period, you’ve left out important information, making your statement misleading. The City also was on the hook for a $5 million treatment basin, which would have been the same cost as switching to our own well water system”…

    Unless my math is incorrect which is always possible because my math is pretty bad, the $5M cost of the project, plus the $2M (or higher) estimate on the needed water softening plant, plus the estimated 65K to 85K annual operating and maintaining costs of that water softener plant, plus the cost of approx. $30K (I think that was the figure) for another engineering consultant, Wilson, to come up with a fix for the hard water issues, all add up to more costly than if the city had not switched to well water and had to pay the cost of the $5M treatment basin and the expected rate increases from PUD. I realize the water switch is a complex issue, but I did not feel I was misleading in my Oct. 26th statement above.

    Lastly, you listed part of a comment I wrote on Nov. 16 which was, “It’s no wonder that the city of Ferndale continues to have to raise taxes to offset the questionable decisions that have been made on many fronts by the city council and Mayor Jensen over the last number of years.”

    You wrote, “First, when you say the City continues to raise taxes you make it seem as if every year we increase property taxes, which is not true.”

    Your perception of my use of the word “continues” is simply your perception, nothing more. And to be clear, I did not ever use the term “property taxes”, as I used the word “taxes” in a general sense–meaning any kinds of taxes within the city. I definitely do not know much about the complexities of different taxes and funds within the city of Ferndale and I’m certain that you are much more knowledgable than me on those subjects, but I do believe that it is likely there have been increases in taxes of some kind in the city of Ferndale at sometime over the last number of years and it is likely to happen again in the future. So, I stand by my belief that some of those tax increases will be the result of questionable decisions that have been made on many fronts by the city council and Mayor Jensen. You are welcome to disagree, but I don’t think you can say with certainty that I am saying something untrue.

    I will ask you and/or suggest to you one last time that you please revise your comments on this article comment thread where you have alleged numerous times that I make statements that are not true. I have kept trying to remind you that you are a Ferndale city employee and therefore I think it is inappropriate and potentially irresponsible to the city you work for when you make an unsubstantiated accusation (repeatedly) in this newspaper publication about me, thus casting me in a false light.

    • Hi Sandy – You’ll find that there are probably a handful of people where I’ve let them know that their comments either are not true in a specific instance, or that they’re typically posting things that are not true. In the case of Mr. Haugen, I have explicitly said something he has written is a lie, because have literally provided him with documented evidence of the truth and he purposely continues to write the same inaccurate information. That makes it a lie. Now, a single statement on a situation doesn’t, to me, make someone a liar, therefore I’d never call him that. But a statement he has made could be a lie. My little boy is just now getting to the age where he tells us a lie every so often. Psychologically, he wants it to be true and therefore to him it’s not necessarily a lie. He’s not old enough to understand the difference. I don’t think he’s a liar, either, even though he has told me a lie. The difference between he and Walter Haugen, however, is that within the same conversation he’ll acknowledge the truth and correct himself. My son, that is.

      Again, there are two groups of people I have to correct. One group is people who simply are new to an issue and don’t understand it or got some inaccurate info from somewhere and so that singular comment is not accurate. Another group of people consistently makes inaccurate statements, and I couldn’t speak to why they keep doing that. You are in the latter group.

      I’m not sure what the intent of this post was, because I would never, ever try to hide what I’ve said to you, thus the reason why I posted it publicly. I’d say that the official position of the City of Ferndale is that the things you’re saying about our community are not true. Multiple times you have been corrected and we have asked you to stop trying to confuse people with falsities. You have refused and tried to justify what you write by twisting the truth.

      This is similar to Mr. Haugen, where I have said things that he has written are lies. Of course, that’s different than calling him a liar, but it doesn’t really matter. The things he said, too, are untrue.

      I think perhaps why you’re commenting here is that you’re taking this very personal. As I have explained to you on the phone before, this isn’t personal at all, but it’s very important that the public reading the misinformation or the twisting of reality that you post knows what is actually going on. I really wish that you would be willing to post accurate information on the Internet, and I don’t understand why you’re unwilling to do that. I really just don’t get it. As someone who spent nearly a decade as a professional journalist, I take truth and accurate to heart and I get offended when people have no problem just skirting those values for their own cause. I just don’t like it. It makes me sad and frustrated.

      I am a huge, passionate advocate for community conversation and for public service that involves citizens having the ability to be informed and using their civic education to share their thoughts with their elected officials. Those elected officials need as much input from an educated citizenry as possible to make the most informed decisions on their behalf, which is the entire intent of our type of governance.

      When comments are posted that twist the truth, and do so purposefully and a person refuses to stop doing that, or correct their mischaracterizations, that harms the public discourse. We take a step back as a community rather than taking a step forward.

      I’m very sorry that this has become so personal. Again, it’s not. But it is part of my job to correct misstatements and I will never, ever say sorry for providing corrections or making sure folks know the truth of a situation.

      Sam Taylor
      Assistant City Administrator
      City of Ferndale

      • Oh, ho! Again with the verbose diatribe- all on the taxpayer dime! At least Sandy and I do our work fighting against a corrupt City Hall for free. A couple of points:

        1) What are the sins of Sandy and myself? Merely that we hold corrupt politicians’ feet to the fire.
        2) Anyone can read Sam’s and Gary’s comments attacking us and judge for themselves.
        3) The question really is, “How corrupt is Ferndale?” My answer is, “Very.” In fact, the scale of boondoggles and pork-barrel projects given to FOG (Friends of Gary) is probably much higher per capita than even in Chicago. Remember, Ferndale only has 12,000 people and they waste millions of dollars every year in pork-barrel building projects that are questionable at best. Sam mentioned a few of them in one of his earlier posts as examples of what Ferndale is doing right. They are just the opposite and contribute to income inequality, pollution, global warming, and downgrade the quality of life. C’mon, the reason Church Road and Main Street on the west side of town got widened was so Gary would have a nicer drive to City Hall every day.
        4) Ten years ago Ferndale had a more vibrant downtown and very little debt. Now, taxes and debt are astronomical, many shops on Main Street are shuttered, and there is a military outpost (complete with MRAP) where the library used to be. It is all Gary Jensen’s fault.

      • Walter – I appreciate when you get specific about what you allegedly think is happening here. I think that makes it a lot easier for the community to see how off the wall your thoughts are on these topics.

        I mean, you’re saying the mayor is responsible for forcing staff to reconstruct two of Ferndale’s busiest roads all for him, not because Church Road has never been rebuilt or had renovations to it since the City took it over as a county road so many long decades ago and is one of our major north-south roads up to the residential area of our community, or because Main Street is literally the main east-west connector across the entire City and happened to also begin renovations prior to Gary Jensen ever being the mayor of Ferndale?

        10 years ago downtown had more shopping prior to Ferndale Station being constructed closer to the freeway.

        Your comment on the money we have spent for facilities can only be related to the two major building projects we’ve done, the police station and the library. Our voters told us they wanted the library and taxed themselves so we could build it. A mayor who supported a citizen’s advisory group effort to build a new police station was re-elected twice while supporting that project. It is a facility designed for the next 20 or 30 years, when our population will continue to grow rapidly as the fastest-growing city in Whatcom County.

        We continue to work on planning and infrastructure efforts to make historic downtown a better place to live, work and shop. That’s why we’ve put $20 million into the area in the last decade – more than any other area of the City. That is a fact. That’s why we have long-term planning for downtown, reduced administrative fees and utility connection fees, small business fee waivers and more. All to attract more business. In the end, the government can’t simply wish people here. They have to make a business decision to come. Eventually they will. There is no cheaper downtown to build in. We believe we’ve made it friendly to come do business downtown. It’s up to business owners to come if it fits their vision and planning.

        To be clear, you complained about infrastructure and I pointed out the reconstruction and renovation efforts that have occurred. Your philosophical statements about global warming have nothing to do with whether or not we fixed the roads. We did.

        If our community members don’t like the work I do to engage in community conversation, all they have to do is choose a mayor who prefers not to have us be the most transparent City in all of Whatcom County. There is literally no other government here this willing to chat with the public day in and day out. Our community deserves that engagement and to have their questions responded to. We’re very proud of our responsiveness. I wish more community governments would do the same thing.

        Most of the conversations we have with our actual community are extremely positive. People want progress and a good quality of life. They don’t want inaccuracies and negativity.

        We’re committed to positive community conversation.

        This’ll have to be the last post on this, but I always appreciate the opportunity to clarify your inaccurate statements, Walter. I hope you can find some peace.

      • Sam, that is a well thought out response.

      • Great to hear from you, Doug, and thank you!

        It’s been a long time since we’ve sat down and had a chat. We should do that sometime soon!

      • Sam, the mayor you remind us was re-elected was voted in by less than 40% of the eligible/registered voters…less than a third of residents living here…he beat Lloyd by a sizable margin, and still, all votes combined, for and against Gary, didn’t equal 40% of the registered voters, who comprise about half the tax-payer citizens of Ferndale…it pays to be humble under such circumstances, for such elections are not as mandate to do anything…

      • Respectfully, Glenn, still, those are the people who were interested enough to participate and to utilize the right to vote that we all have. Were folks so up in arms about this badly needed project, would they not have come out to vote against not only one candidate, but all of the duly-elected representatives that supported construction of the project?

        I spent a lot of years as a reporter and I know that when people are truly upset about an issue, they absolutely turn out to have their say. Our previous mayor was unelected after earning what many think is the largest margin of victory in our state’s history. Folks turn out when they’re upset.

        I still truly hear overwhelmingly positive feedback about the police station project. There are only a handful of people that I’ve ever heard from that are upset about it, and it’s typically the same people over and over. I totally respect their opinions on the issue, but I really just don’t think they’re speaking for the majority. There’s no evidence to say otherwise.

        But here I am again, getting wrapped up in a very long-dead issue at this point. I do this all the time and I shouldn’t, I apologize for rehashing this issue.

        I think most of us are pleased that our police officers now have an inhabitable space to work out of to keep our community safe.

      • Okay, if the reason Ferndale widened Main Street on the west side of town is because it is “the main east-west connector,” then why did the City stop at Church Road instead of continuing up the hill to where the county maintenance starts?

        Really, Sam, this is too easy.

        One more point. You do realize that people don’t believe you don’t you? Saying something is true doesn’t make it so, nor do numbers count unless they can be checked. For example, over the years you and Greg Young have made the cost of the new police station a moving target. First it was $8 million, then $8.5 million, then $5 million. Who knows what you say the cost is now? Greg Young’s figures on Sept. 14, 2009 at the community meeting were $500,000 for debt service over 30 years. Now that figure is down to $300,000 I think. As far as I can see, this is just “creative” accounting.

        Back where I am from, we have a saying, “Don’t believe anything of what you hear and only half of what you see.” In the same vein, I don’t depend on people believing what I say. What I do is point out discrepancies and let other people make up their minds. As I often say, “Do your research.”

        By the way, global warming is extremely relevant, as well as the other things I mentioned (income inequality, etc.). Wasting tremendous amounts of fossil fuels to redesign and widen roads that could just be maintained better is a main cause of global warming. All these construction projects across the nation add up to a big problem. Ferndale could have done the right thing and gotten by for another 10-20 years on routine maintenance. Instead the City contracts out to waste more energy

      • Thanks for that Sam…I recall the ‘voter apathy’ argument from a personal letter Gary wrote to me regarding my objections to the councilmatic bond employed to build it…’voter apathy’ is too easy for an energetic government. I’m one of those “typically over and over” people to whom you refer…That the opposition to the police station as it was built (and I’m not sure that if people really understood, you wouldn’t hear considerable skepticism from the citizens) is a persistent, perhaps repeated claim or grievance from a ‘few’ citizens should not be the measure of its merit…the question should be, when officials are faced with such ‘small’ opposition, “Do people, independent evaluators, and perhaps experts without a stake in the outcome, agree this or that is the right course?” The police station was pretty much a manifestation of the mayor and council allies’ best judgement…many viable alternatives presented themselves, and were presented, and the Library mess was an additional count against the course ultimately taken….should government personnel find a way to hear through the high volume-level of even limited opposition, that same government will best serve its employers, the citizens…

    • you’re detailed articulation is greatly appreciated…

  13. Sam Taylor: So, first you stated in the past that your boss (I assume that is Mayor Jensen) and other city employees, and some city council members agreed with your repeated statement that I “generally make statements that are not true.” And now, today, you are claiming this:

    “I’d say that the official position of the City of Ferndale is that the things you’re saying about our community are not true.”

    Sam, while you continue to throw out accusatory statements about me in such a general manner without providing facts to back those up, I suggest to you again, that you take time to realize and understand that you are a city employee, and you are possibly putting the city of Ferndale in a vulnerable position by making such statements about me without providing facts to back those up.

    Oh, and one more thing. You concluded your comment today by saying: “I’m very sorry that this has become so personal. Again, it’s not. But it is part of my job to correct misstatements and I will never, ever say sorry for providing corrections or making sure folks know the truth of a situation.”

    I do not need an apology from you, nor would I want an apology from you for the statements you have made, and continue to make, about me. Your apology would be meaningless. What I want, is to not be mischaracterized and disparaged by you, and apparently as you now claim, also by the city of Ferndale, and to have the instances in which you’ve done this, corrected.

    • Sandy – I have spent far too much time responding to your past insinuations and inaccuracies about the City at this point to rehash it again. I’ve given you over and over four or five pretty distinct reasons for our switch back to our groundwater wells. Those are facts. You refuse to acknowledge them. Therefore, your statements are inaccurate.

      I’m pretty confident that in the place where you took that past quote from me, I also shared with you the exact factual reasons (the same as referenced above) why your statements are inaccurate. It is important that the community understands these insinuations about why we switched back to our groundwater wells are not true, for the sake of healthy community dialogue.

      You seem to be insinuating that there is some type of liability with the City taking an official position that the public statements you have made are not true. I don’t agree with that. I think it’s very important that we provide factual information to folks to let them know that what you’re saying about Ferndale is not true. It has nothing to do with you as a person at all, just the statements you’re making. Every jurisdiction and every person has an absolute right to refute inaccuracies in the public sphere.

  14. Do you guys really think that Political Junkie comments are a good place to have a long argument about personal issues!? Maybe you could find a better place. I think that all sides have said enough.

    • I hear you James…but then, free speech tends to flush things out when civil, or at least non-violent…I take splice in the fact that a government official, and a citizen are having an exchange, and that no one will suffer under any laws for his part in the exchange…call me a ‘Pollyanna,’ and I deserve the label, but still, such exchanges should play out, even if not especially becoming…

    • Well, as long as I am being attacked, I consider it my right to respond. I am sure Sam Taylor and Sandy Robson feel the same way. Oh, and these are hardly personal issues. Sam Taylor is highly involved in what I see as corrupt city policies. Gary Jensen is running for Port Commissioner and he is highly involved in helping SSA Marine bring the coal terminal to Whatcom County. All of these things are interconnected. No one says you have to like what I say and I don’t even care if you believe anything I say.

      • I cannot disagree Walter that this should all get the most objective scrutiny…I’m 100% against the terminal being built here, and I’m mystified as to what attracts Gary Jensen, a member of this community, to the sad destruction of some of the last pristine waterfront in the Country…what could he possibly gain by supporting such a mess? It’s un-neighborly, to us, to the Lummi’s, to the environment, to the San Juans, to the hope of tech companies, or other less ‘foot-print’ massive appearances…it makes no sense as a long time resident who ostensibly loves the area as we do, to support such a thing as the largest coal terminal in the free world being build on Ferndale’s border, and smack in the middle of 2500 yr old traditional fishing ground for the Lummi Nation

      • Okay, Walter. I agree, and I really hope that Gary Jensen is NOT elected Port Commissioner. He would just make the port even worse than it already is. (What about Bob Cecile… or why don’t you run, Walter?)

  15. ‘solace’ is what I meant above, as in “I take solace…”…sorry

  16. […] I should have known is not running for reelection.  Now, I would consider Gary Jensen and Ralph Black possible […]

  17. Here’s my question/s: Was there some kind of election in Ferndale where voters cast their ballots to approve an endorsement of GPT? And were there other elections now, where Ferndale citizens are telling their government to take a particular stand on whether certain people’s statements are true or untrue? I don’t understand how the City of Ferndale can be listed as a supporter of GPT on the Gateway Pacific Terminal website if such a vote never took place. I don’t understand how the city of Ferndale is taking an official opinion on whether anyone else’s opinions are in general true or untrue, without at the very least, a vote by the citizens of the city. Also, I don’t know how representatives and servants of the populace can act as if just because they explain what they may perceive of or want others to perceive of as their motivations for taking a particular action that those reasons should be identified as truth just because they said so.

    • Hi Dena,

      The Ferndale City Council majority approved a resolution supporting the terminal project as the duly-elected representatives of the citizens of Ferndale.

      • Hi Sam,
        Yes. I still don’t see how the City of Ferndale is identified as a supporter of GPT. Only the Ferndale City Council voted on the resolution, correct? The city council members are representatives of the city, but they are not the city who did not vote to endorse GPT. I can see having a city council endorsement listed on that site because the responsibility for doing such a thing would rest where it should be: on the city council. – Dena Jensen

      • That’s a fair point, Dena. It’s not really something we’re involved in. I don’t know that anyone from the City has spoken to them about their website. We can’t really control what a private entity puts on the Internet, but should we decide we’d prefer it to be written a different way it wouldn’t hurt to at least ask.

        It would be up to them to change it to be more specific. Perhaps they are making the argument that the mayor and a council have both supported therefore the City supports? This is just speculation of course, having not seen the website or spoken to anyone from that entity about it I don’t really know the details. It was quite awhile when the council passed that resolution, we don’t really talk about it much any more.

        I will, however, mention it to the mayor tomorrow to see what he thinks about it. I’ll follow up here to let you know what the discussion was like!

      • Seems like a great idea to work on changing that. The main thing is that an attitude that the city council is the same as the city – which is composed of individual citizens – can be really problematic when you are relating to individual citizens. It’s kind of like using the royal “we”. A lot of people can end up feeling either oppressed, patronized or disenfranchised when you are coming at them from that type of adopted identity.

      • The mayor and council do speak on behalf of the City, Dena, and the mayor is the head of the city according to the law. But I totally understand the perspective, and I think it’s important to share it with the mayor and get his thoughts and see if he believes we should reach out and request that it be changed, or if he thinks it should remain in place. Off the top of my head, I couldn’t really say either way what his thoughts are.

      • Hi Dena – I’m following up today after having spoken to the mayor about the topic. He said he’d seen the comment and he told me that in the past he also has asked that they seek his permission before they use him in any advertising supportive of the project. He supported requesting that they modify the language on their website to state that it was the “Ferndale City Council” and asked that I contact them to make that request.

        I will be doing that right now.

        Thanks again for the thoughtful discussion, I really appreciate it!

      • Dena – Another follow-up: Could you point me in the direction of the list you’ve mentioned? Today was the first time I went to their site and I can’t seem to find it. My apologies for the confusion!

        This is the site I went to:

      • Hi Sam, Here’s a link to where the city logo is shown:
        There is a link for individual (in text) listings here and it does say “City of Ferndale” there, as well:
        Thanks for the follow up.

      • Exactly, Dena. Spot on.

      • Update: I found it!

        The following email was sent to the listed email address on the website this evening:

        “Hello GPT Staff –

        I have been asked by Mayor Jensen and some on the City Council to request that you edit your website related to information on Ferndale support of your project.

        First, please remove the City’s logo from your website.

        Second, please edit the linked list where it says “City of Ferndale” to actually say “2011 Ferndale City Council.”

        Mayor Jensen would like this clarity to ensure the public is not confused. Some council members are concerned that the site is also confusing, and point out that the City Council that adopted the 2011 resolution is not the same as the current makeup of the council and they would like the public to understand when the resolution was adopted and that it wasn’t the City public that adopted it, but the City Council itself that supported the terminal with that resolution in 2011.

        Please let me know if you are willing to make these modifications so that I may communicate that back to the mayor and council.

        I appreciate your attention to this matter.”

      • A good letter and I appreciate your attention to this matter, Sam. I would encourage you and all the members of the Ferndale City Council to please take a more currently active interest in the happenings regarding the Gateway Pacific Terminal. When I have heard/read you and the mayor speak of it a number of times in the not too distant past – even in your comment to me yesterday, I have a sense of an almost bored disregard for this project that you are conveying to people. This is a huge project and whether it turns out to be good or evil, the people of your city will bear the burden of the results, so they should be well and currently informed about it, as should all of the council members. Thank you again for your efforts to have accurate information displayed on the GPT website. – Dena Jensen

      • I appreciate the feedback, Dena, thank you!

    • Good points Dena.

  18. signing my comment above – Dena Jensen

  19. In your January 11, 2015 Blog, it appears “defamation of character” is paramount. Both Robbins and Black reported that they had no recount of the situation you cited indicating Robbins publically supported Black as a future Port Commissioner . You did not disclose your source. Two individuals report no knowledge of the situation, but you report it as fact. Do you have evidence that what you reported was accurate, or was it hear say, or was it your assumption of information you may have “heard”?
    I find it disappointing when journalists feel the need to discredit, promote, and embellish selected events to boost or upgrade their readership. That is journalism at its worst.

    • You say that “Two individuals report no knowledge of the situation, but you [Riley Sweeney] report it as fact.” The “two individuals” may have been lying, and that’s what this post is all about. To me it seems that Dan Robbins and Ralph Black were the ones trying to rewrite history, and not telling the truth.

      • In my opinion, a sitting Commissioner would not put himself or herself in a position to prematurely endorse anyone. He or she might make the comment that one would make a good candidate for a commissioner, but he or she might make that comment about several individuals.

        When taken out of context one can embellish any situation, and is this “really” an issue to be concerned about?

    • I am posting this specifically because defamation has gotten brought up before…… also if there is a lawyer here they are welcome to correct me.

      Defamation requires two main components. First you have to prove harm…..I believe in this circumstance you would have a really hard time proving that someone’s endorsement is harmful.. unless Ralph or Dan really do believe that each other’s reputation is that toxic, neither seemed to suggest that.

      The other component is that Riley would have to post this either knowing that it was incorrect, or recklessly which in journalism is without doing due diligence, Riley stated he had sources I don’t know what standard due diligence is for journalism, but I imagine that multiple sources is at least on par with the Herald.

      none of the comments above actually address the question though, what is Dan Robbin’s opinion of Ralph Black?

      *exit stage left*

      • Devlin, you’ve sort of done a mash-up of defamation and libel, which have different standards of evidence. Truth is not a defense in defamation, but one’s status as a public person—ie, public official—certainly factors in. IMO neither occurred here. At all.

      • Circling back to the original point, Riley exercised his right to express an opinion that an event had occurred. He additionally did right by fully airing the objection of Commissioner Robbins to the information shared, and acknowledged a difference of opinion or recollection of the order of events that had occurred. His response has been ethical. IMO, Robbins was skirting the line by demanding “I want a retraction now.” A less shrill demand upon a citizen with rights of expression is probably better strategy from a public official.

    • I am not required to reveal my sources but simply restate that I verified this article with my sources before publishing and stand by my reporting.

      • I for one am okay with that. BTW, James Risen is on your side too.

  20. […] running since Jensen jumped in. Perhaps having the sitting port commissioner and director disown his candidacy played a part but more likely, Jensen entering the race pushed him […]

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