Posted by: sweeneyblog | February 6, 2015

Friday Odds and Ends: Hammill and Kunkel File, Cobb Speaks and Lilliquist Responds

Hello Loyal Readers,

Time for those nefarious Odds and Ends to once again inform and amuse you. Just a reminder, if checking my blog is just too much work, you can always subscribe by clicking the subscribe button to your right. That way you get an alert every time I post.

Dan Hammill

Councilman Dan Hammill

First, I wrote a few weeks ago about the oncoming battle of the titans between newly appointed Bellingham City Councilman Dan Hammill and At Large Councilwoman Roxanne Murphy, suggesting that she is considering running in the 3rd Ward.

Some had speculated that Hammill might slide over to the At Large seat, but no, he has officially filed for the 3rd and appointed Jenn Mason as his campaign manager.

“I look forward to continuing to serve the citizens of Bellingham as your Ward 3 Representative,” said Hammill. “The neighborhoods that I represent are the heart of Bellingham – from Lakeway and Toledo Hill to the York neighborhood, downtown and Sunnyland. I’ve lived in this ward for more than 23 years and it’s an honor to work for them on the City Council.”

Mason, a capable organizer in her own right with a long history of work for DVSAS and other worthwhile organizations also happens to be married to the outgoing chair of the Whatcom Democrats, Mike Estes. In other words, Hammill is bringing the big guns to the table.

Nick Kunkel - he's the one on the left

Nick Kunkel – he’s the one on the left

Meanwhile former legislative candidate, and frequent commenter on this blog, Nick Kunkel is planning to run in the 5th district against incumbent Terry Bornemann.

Kunkel, a libertarian, got squeezed out in the primary between Satpal Sidhu and Luanne Van Werven last year. Bornemann has not indicated if he is going to run for reelection or not – I’ve heard mixed reports.

The Move to Amend Whatcom group, an organization aimed at undoing the damage of the Citizen’s United decision, is bringing a big name speaker to town. From their announcement,

“Please join us February 19th as we host David Cobb, a fiery speaker and National Projects Director of Democracy Unlimited, to give his talk “Creating Democracy & Challenging Corporate Rule.” Part history lesson and part heart-felt call to action, David will tell the story of the American creation myth and the Constitution as it pertains to Corporate Personhood and illegitimate but legal corporate constitutional rights. “
The event will be held Thursday, February 19th, at 7 p.m. at the Bellingham Elks Club on Samish Way.
Michael Lilliquist standing on a sidewalk

Michael Lilliquist standing on a sidewalk

Finally, City Councilman Michael Lilliquist shared his thoughts on the controversial ordinance Linville is proposing that would forbid sitting on our streets and sidewalks.

Via his facebook page, he said the current laws against, “public intoxication, drinking in public, littering, public urination, blocking sidewalks” aren’t working. He thinks there needs to be a focus on more effective enforcement.

“I think focusing on homelessness is a bit off the point when it comes to these two proposed changes to the law. The problems that are being reported to the city do not have to do with homeless people in general, or even street people in general. This is about a small but persistent number of individuals. Homeless people benefit from help and opportunities. I think we’re talking about a different crew in these cases.”
Naturally, this issue will continue to draw strong critiques from both sides. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. With all the wind, it should be a crazy evening tonight, stay safe out there.
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Responses

  1. Sure, lets legislate new criminal sanctions against a ‘small but persistent number of individuals’.
    That’s always good policy.

    • LOIS LERNER AND AL SHARPTON?

  2. Too bad the Move to Amend folks picked Feb 19th for the event. That is the same evening Whatcom Dems meet.

    • Maybe the Whatcom Dems could move the meeting to the Elks Club as no one will be there anyway.

  3. BMC 10.24.070. There seems to be a persistent general misunderstanding (that you didn’t assist here, Riley) that there is not ALREADY on the books a prohibition against sitting and lying on public sidewalks; and has been since 1997. It’s called BMC 10.24.070. The current proposal in front of City Council extends the hours of its enforcement and the area of coverage. I’m neither speaking in favor or against the idea here, just noting its history.

    • Great Point, thank you Tim!

      • Without conflating the one ordinance with the other, or commenting on their wisdom, I can imagine two reasons to consider updating the 1997 law: The downtown core has gotten larger, and more people are out later in a growing evening economy. IMO these are great outcomes for people who want their city to thrive and provide more opportunities for enjoyment. I just lay this out there as possible alternative to the growing narrative that city leaders are eager to think up new ways to kick the crap out of homeless people.

      • (meant this comment to go further down, not in direct reply to you, Riley!)

    • Expanding coverage for an existing civic ordinance that has criminal consequences is in essence making new criminal law.
      Upon conviction for a third or subsequent offense,
      be guilty of having committed a criminal misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 90 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
      Pretty tough repercussions for the few that will be nabbed in this heinous activity
      as if we can afford to have sidewalk sitters populating our jail.

      • How about making the do community service like picking up trash downtown and scrubbing the urine off the alley ways.

      • Running a quick statistical analysis, I don’t find a lot of rigor in COB Police citing for the S&L infraction.

        Since October 1, there’ve been about 32 citations issued by police. If you trawl through the specifics, they’ve generally been issued repeatedly to the same few scofflaws. For comparison, in the same period there have been 74 citations for violations to the city’s noise ordinances, 137 instances of graffiti logged.

        All this said, I’m in agreement this probably isn’t the most pressing issue facing pedestrian safety. As someone else has noted, people taking their right turns while pedestrians are in the crosswalk is a much, much, MUCH more common occurrence. I’ve been nearly crushed in the crosswalk, when I’ve had the light, by zealous motorists about six times since the beginning of 2015 alone—including about 5 minutes ago.

        In all the years I’ve lived in Bham, I’ve never seen a cop cite for this.

      • Yeah- Why not have them do community service? It would be more helpful than jamming them all into crowded jails, wasting our tax dollars. It would also be better for the criminals, especially if they are young.

        I don’t think that there should be any punishment for lying on sidewalks.

      • People ask: why not just make them do community service. Exactly. That’s what the proposed “failure to respond” ordinance makes possible. Civil citations can be ignored if you are not capable of being fined, but a misdemeanor conviction could lead to community service. In fact, the proposal specifically authorizes community service and social services in place of jail time. But without change in law, people cited for civil infractions cannot be made to do service.

        Again, I ask: do you think this is a good idea, if it creates a way to compel community service?

      • In all the years I’ve lived here, I’d never seen cops in riot gear clear people out of a park or destroy benches just because the wrong people were sitting on therm.
        But they did.
        And you’re way too smart to that fallacy of logic anyway.
        If the ordinance isn’t used like you say it isn’t,
        why have it on the books and why expand it?
        This is part of the show of gentrification of downtown for the benefit of the business community.

      • A few factual corrections: the sitting and lying law only applies to downtown sidewalk during the day. It does no apply to parks. Sitting in parks in not a violation. The eviction of Occupy from the park was due to a different law, which prohibits camping in city parks. None of our parks are designed as campgrounds, hence the rule.

        With regard to the eviction, the city council was not involved in that decision. Again: the council has no say over law enforcement personnel. That was the mayor’s call, and it was a bit surprising. Sure, Occupy was pushing the limits on purpose, but…

      • Actually Michael, several of our parks are designed as, and used to be used as campgrounds, but camping is no longer a “program” of our city parks.

    • Tim, the amended ordinance does more than extend the times and area of application. It fabricates the existence of “pedestrian safety zones” not where there is the greatest risk to pedestrians, but where there is greatest risk to private business profit.. the downtown and Fairhaven. Even worse, while we are told that loitering causes safety issues due by taking up too much room on the sidewalk, while other downtown policies in the works involve allowing restaurant expansion onto the very same sidewalks in nice weather. I resent being manipulated to further the interests of the private sector. But the real costs are paid for by the environment, and the homeless. When the mayor was told she could not “thin” vegetation in the riparian area of an estuary, the city decided it would remove invasive plants, which happened to provide ground cover to facilitate wildlife corridors. And the increased penalties being imposed far exceed the “crime.” Loiter and lay down and suddenly a judge has the right to control your life, where you live, if you must find work, if you are required to do community service. A thriving, vibrant downtown at what cost?

      • Wendy,

        If restaurants can put tables on the sidewalks (during the warmer, dryer months) it seems that if business might improve allowing the restaurant to hirer more help (college students during the summer earning money for expenses instead of taking out student loans) which would result in more sales tax from the business (from both the workers and the customers.

        “I resent being manipulated to further the interests of the private sector”-you forgot to include the public sector.

  4. I am having difficulty grasping the intent and the potential impact of Mayor Linville’s proposed ordinance to ‘forbid sitting on our streets and sidewalks.’

    I get not sitting in the street. However, empowering greater police enforcement for sitting on sidewalks in the name of ‘pedestrian safety’ reeks of social engineering or some as-yet-unexplained social agenda as opposed to encouraging pedestrians to ‘Watch where you’re going.’ – Mike

  5. We the people at Move to Amend Whatcom regret that David Cobb is coming to Bellingham on the 19th, when the Democrats meet. He is on a tour and that was the only date he was available. We hope that he will attract people from the left and the right, politically active, as well as innocent bystanders.

  6. Phi Ochs’ Rule for Liberals applies to Michael Lilliquist: “10 degrees to the left of center in good times; 10 degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally.”

    If you scratch a liberal, you expose a closet conservative. No matter how much 3M Scratch Remover yosu apply, the scratch is still there.

    Even the so-called progressive hipster types will probably wind up supporting criminalizing the homeless. Of course these progressive hipsters are the same ones who talk about restoring the “commons” but as for actually having a commons where people can gather without threat of police harassment, they haven’t a clue.

  7. Lets get back to politics, “GO DAN GO” “GO TERRY GO”

    • Hmmmm, although I lean toward the left, I was kind of thinking the opposite. And we don’t even know that Terry is running for reelection.

  8. Riley, as a full reading of my posts indicate, I have not made up my mind on these two proposals, and I have been asking for feedback. I acknowledge there is a problem, but what is the right response from the city, from social service agencies, and from the community?

    • Well, Michael, the council could start by riding herd on the police. Dave D mentioned cops in riot gear clearing people out of a park. I have seen photos in the Herald of cops arresting people for sitting on the sidewalk. I also read a story about Al Jensen going along with an FBI agent to harass someone at his home because he was a member of an environmental organization (Deep Green Resistance in this case). Once I saw the cops in Bellingham arrest someone outside a card room and there were 4 cop cars there, it was the middle of the day, and this person was not drunk nor giving the police any guff. He was just dirty – and the reason was because he was a construction worker. (The arrest was for child support I believe.) In this case it was just overkill. Even out in the county, the sheriff’s department engages in the same tactics – 4-5 cars at a time when arresting someone. Yet they say they cannot enforce the speeding laws because they don’t have enough officers. Hah!

      The reason police have a problem with their image is because they work hard to harass people. The homeless are on the front lines.

      Now I bet this was not the suggestion you were looking for.

      • Actually, the city council cannot start “riding herd” on the police. The separation of powers prevents legislators from giving orders to law enforcement. I have certainly talked with our police chief, following the Furgeson incident, but I can give no orders. I have also talked with the mayor, who can give orders, but I can assure you that city council members are strongly reminded of the limits of our role.

      • Yes Michael, I know the police are under the executive branch, especially since I and others in Ferndale have run afoul of them because we oppose Mayor Gary Jensen.

        On a historical note, Iceland has the distinction of being the world’s longest running democracy. And their country also began with a legal system that had no executive branch. The lawspeaker recited the laws at the regional Things and the national Thing (Old Norse for assembly), while the assembly voted on laws, weregild (blood money compensation), and outlawry. However, it was up to the victim or his kin to enforce the laws. So we can look at Iceland (with copious written sources going back nearly a thousand years) and see that no executive branch, no established police force and a long tradition of democracy co-existed in a very severe environment and in a time of chaos, bloodshed, and vikings. Mere coincidence? Hmmmm. I don’t think so.

        Perhaps we need to really look at how overmilitarized we are with a massive police presence, even here in hipster haven. Perhaps the City Council should read a little history to get some ideas.

      • Sounds like they pulled you over for speeding on you “antique” motor scooter. 🙂

    • Micheal: What happens to the person who fails to appear is within the judge’s discretion and that discretion is extremely broad. But the end result is the same.. that person loses their personal liberty. If they fail to show up at a housing situation by curfew, they are subject to additional control and punishment. It is a big deal. And I have a problem with work details. It feels like we are punishing the homeless for simply being homeless, which is despicable, and by making them work for free, it becomes more difficult to pull themselves of the cycle they have entered and find a job. Forcing someone into rehab prematurely is a waste of everyone’s time and money.

      You want solutions? I would ask you to look to the mini- house villages that are being created by other more progressive towns, where there is a chance for self governance and stable community, the right to vote (by having an address). By self-policing, they will evict the trouble makers and they are likely the real dangers that need to watched. But we can not punish everyone for a few bad seeds.

  9. I think we’re all indebted to Dan Hammill for pro-actively supporting the Lummi Nation’s courageous position on the coal terminal. The City of Bellingham has been relatively timid on this issue, and it’s time for a change.
    Abe Jacobson

    • Yes, Abe, thanks for that.

      And I’m hearing that benches and electric outlets have been removed to dis-enable the homeless from hanging around, so of course they will either lie on the ground or move on out toward Lynden…

  10. While we’re on the subject and I have a big headache anyway,
    what’s the difference between a drunk on the sidewalk in downtown Bellingham
    and a political blogger?

    The drunk says thank you when you give him $20.

    • is this a cheap shot at RJS? Shame, shame!

      • Playing nice when you want something is only half of the game.

      • Am I surprised?

  11. By the way, Bob Marley’s birthday today. He would have been 70.

    “If you know your history, then you would know where you’re coming from.”

    • And this last Monday was Ayn Rand’s 110th.

      They are two of my favorite people.

  12. I cannot support Roxanne Murphy, who proved to be insensitive to the issues in the Sunnyland neighborhood, and did not bother to consult the neighborhood association (SNA) for its input on the critical DOT zoning controversy. I hope Mr. Hammill makes more of an effort to find out what really concerns residents here, and does not just keep repeating the same litany of “jobs, clean-up the lake, etc.” and other such empty slogans. The only cure for our ills is to slow population growth, and that should be acknowledged publicly and adopted as policy.

  13. The intent of a law or ordinance at the time of inception is fine and well, but it ought to be considered how future administrations and law enforcement personnel might utilize the language to serve purposes that people right here and now are concerned about. It simply can’t be guaranteed that this won’t be used maliciously and in a way that runs roughshod over civil liberties. No thanks to S n L… Thanks for the mention Riley. The woman in the photo is my mother, she is a great person of (sometimes brutal 🙂 ) honesty and integrity. Love ya mom!

    • “my mother, …. ……..(sometimes brutal 🙂
      Call CPS for help.

      • It’s a figure of speech Mr Farber, “brutally honest”. A trait I am happy to have inherited.

      • Nick, that was meant to be funny hence the smiley face. I experienced the same thing with my Father.

        And Walter, as usual, is not worthy of a response to his comment.

      • Some might say that Wayne has integrated the “brutal” without the “honest” part. Some might say that, but of course I cannot comment.

        [Okay, what movie? Hint: Netflix made an American version starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.]

  14. One interesting downstream impact of a serial sidewalk-lier is that, as I understand it, if they have not paid the fine a warrant is automatically issued and an officer is compelled to arrest and jail them until they see a judge (probably 24-48 hours). It is these types of mandatory arrests that clog the system, FTA (failure to appear) being the most clogging, and drives up the size and cost of the jail. Only 20-30% of inmates are for violent crimes and a huge number are pre-trial and not convicted of anything (yet). As an advocate for downtown and downtown businesses, and as someone who would like to walk downtown without stepping over people or being yelled at by drunks, we surely need new ideas and better solutions. Building a $100million+ jail warehouse for the mentally ill, addicted, or homeless is expensive and unsustainable.

    • Ken, do you think there is a connection between these new penalties and the new jail that needs to be filled?

  15. $20million for the bike path/bike lane boondoggle is NOT SUSTAINABLE either!

    • What do you have so much against bikes? Cars aren’t sustainable. Think of all the wear and tear on the roads cars do compared to bikes. Besides that, bikes are clearly more environmentally sustainable. Cars also kill more people than bikes (by far).

      If everyone rode bikes instead of driving cars, FAR less money would be spent.

  16. Hammill and Kunkel filed? It isn’t filing week until May.


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