Posted by: sweeneyblog | May 9, 2015

The Political Junkie Gives Up the Habit, Closes Blog

Hello Loyal Readers,

It is with a heavy heart that I must close this blog. After five years and over five hundred posts, I  . . .

Sweeney's Portraits

Farewell for now


Yes, I’ve accepted a position with the City of Ferndale as their Communications Officer (provided the council approves my contract), filling part of the hole left by Sam Taylor’s departure. I will be handling their website, social media and public relations and it would be inappropriate for me to keep running a highly political blog like this, so I am shutting it down.

AH! This explains why you posted that nice interview about Jon Mutchler. Whatever happened to that?

I interviewed Jon Mutchler a few weeks back because of his work on the Charter Review, and he was the one who reminded me that Sam Taylor was leaving. I reached out to Gary Jensen, and interviewed for the job.

I posted the interview but the timing looked TERRIBLE so I pulled it down. For those of you who thought I was too generous to him, my interviews tend to be rather gracious profiles, no matter the subject (see Bill Knutzen, Kathy Kershner, Ken Bell, Kelli Linville).

So no more blogging? What about posting that article about oil trains/the new jail/Agenda 21? 

I’m afraid I’m done for now, however I really recommend you check out Northwest Citizen (click here) for the best insider dirt, Politics Whatcom (click here) or Bellingham Politics and Economics (click here) for the nerdy technical stuff, the Whatcom Watch and the Cascadia Weekly for formal news articles and of course, some of the new local public affairs media emerging like “Hour of the Wolf” hosted by Stephanie Kountorous (click here or click here).

So what are you going to do with all your free time?

My wife and I are finally developing a radio serial called, “Bellingham Terror” set in 1935 Whatcom County that will eventually air on KMRE 102.3 FM. We are also looking to start a family, which I’m told can be a bit time-consuming. Finally, my wife’s photography business, Sweeney’s Portraits, continues to expand.

What about all this material you have on your blog?

The site will stay up, so you may peruse the archives at your leisure. I stand by the work I’ve done and I want it to be accessible for anyone who wants to see what has happened in months past.

So that’s it?

Not quite. I want to thank all my devoted readers and donors who have supported me over the years. Your enthusiasm and financial support has allowed me to produce this site and I am forever indebted to you.

Thank you to my guest writers (Tim, Elise, Jeff, and others) who helped fill these digital pages. I would like to thank John Servais, for his mentorship and Deb Gabers for her editor’s pen. Deb is perhaps the most invisible part of this blog, but she heals my chunky awkward sentences and makes me sound coherent.

Finally, I’ve been watching and commenting on Whatcom County politics for half a decade, a mere blip compared to most of my readers. That said, here is my two cents:

Politics is serious business. The decisions made, especially at the local level, directly impact the lives of those around you, however that does not mean that people should take themselves so seriously.

My hope is that everyone who read and participated in this blog will remember to chuckle once and a while because there is nothing stranger, or funnier, than real life.

Especially when it comes to small town politics.

-Riley (and Bryna) Sweeney

Riley and Bryna, signing off

Riley and Bryna, signing off



  1. I will miss you commentary!

  2. Riley, I have very much appreciated your excellent citizen journalism. I will miss your posts. Don’t let the dark side of putting out fuzzy feel-good Mar-Com posts suck you in too much!

  3. It is always nice to have a day job…..but your insights to local affairs will be sorely missed. Best wishes to you and Bryna.
    Sunny Brown

  4. Oh, man. I gotta say, this is pretty bittersweet. Nothing lasts forever, and it sounds like you and your are landing in a really good place. But I can’t say I’m not going to miss reading your blog immensely.

    All the best to you Riley, thanks for all the hard work.

  5. HI Riley,
    Sam was a good reporter and Ferndale gobbled him up and now you. Don’t get me wrong I’m fine with Ferndale but the broader community doesn’t deserve to be treated like this.
    I have to say I didn’t like the photo of you looking like a mafia boss with the cigar. I just don’t get the “cigar thing”. Cigars cause cancer and kill people, why would anyone glorify it? That said, you did us all proud with this Blog, especially your style of interviewing to inform. As a former elected and now a retired citizen that still pays attention. THANK YOU RILEY

    • re: “cigar thing” – Freudian, perhaps?

      • More Clintonian

      • It’s a joke, I’m betting. Thanks for all of it Riley!

  6. So now Riley you are a big gubmit guy following in the footsteps of Sam Taylor no less.

    Goodbye and Good luck. May the Force be with you. I don’t know what I will do with all the extra time this frees up.

    Walter H. will probably have a seizure when he gets the news. that would be a bonus LOL! 🙂

  7. Goodbye Comrade Riley!

  8. I will miss you. I always appreciate your insights and your even-handed reports, not to mention the breaking news you often bring. Good luck to you in this next phase.

  9. Oh Riley! I can’t tell you how much I will miss you. How much we all will miss you. Thank you for clarity, rigor, depth, humor, good grammar and all your hard work!

  10. Riley – thanks for holding this space – where or where will I go now for my favorite inane Faberisms and trenchant Haugenspeak?

    All the best in the new job. I must say I consider jobs to be over-rated but a good idea if you have or are actively fomenting your own little hostages to fortune!

    With kind regards,

    • Farberisms no “Faberisms”!

      You can go to the Herald comment section, however the editor censors some of my best ones.

      I am thinking of taking my blog off the back burner now that Riley has been vanquished by the right. I am waiting for my grant check from the Koch bothers. 🙂

      • Koch Brothers, oops!

  11. Its been real. My sources say the Zombie Apocalypse has Ferndale as ground zero for the coming onslaught. Better get your shooting skills up to snuff, and what better place than Ferndale to do so. Godspeed.

  12. So now you will assist in the communications between Ferndale and Bellingham as they prepare to assimilate one another, the mating surface a new Jail (and economic anchor). We all carve our piece of the whale, and in the end are only memories. Yours is the good and honorable fight, and we all owe you a debt for shining the light as long as you did.

    • Where have you been horklet?

      • Hiding from you, Wayne.

  13. Dammit, Riley, you are supposed to train a replacement before you leave!

    Wishing you great things at your new job. It sounds like a good fit for you.

  14. Riley, All the best I know you will do a great job thanks for all the coverage over the years. Good Luck I am happy for you.

  15. Can’t say I’ve read All of your articles, but Know there’s some Big shoes to fill once you step up? Down? Out? In?

  16. Way to go, Riley! Congratulations to you and the City of Ferndale!

  17. Congrats and best of luck to you and Bryna. Onward and upward!!!

  18. Movin on, Riley, as law enforcement and heightened politics moves heads toward the border. Your talent for getting to the point has been welcome and rare. Thanks for giving voices of inquiry a place here for the time you were able to do it.

  19. Ferndale has certainly poached its share of talented and energetic bloggers. Good luck, Riley.

  20. Extremely lucky for Ferndale! While I am happy for you, know that you will be missed. I have really appreciated your candor, professionalism and spirit. Thank you for your dedication to our communities and your willingness to tell the – sometimes difficult – truth.

  21. Good luck with your ‘family plan’. It is not but very time consuming and worth every minute of it! Saving grace you are still part of Whatcom County and will be around to chit chat or have a beer. You have done good for the community and best of luck with your new gig. Love Satpal

  22. ops! I mean ‘not bit but’

  23. Doggone, I just discovered your blog recently, but have already grown to appreciate it enormously! Best of luck in your next venture….. especially with that whole idea of keeping up with things AND starting a family!

  24. I wish you both all the best. We will surely miss your blog and comments. I always trusted your political judgement to help me stay current and informed on local politics.
    Having a good paying job will help support your new family addition when it happens. Hurray!
    Keep in touch and know that the junkie went out on a high note, and the fun we had watching Seahawks games are a sweet memory for us.

  25. You’ve done a great job at keeping us informed, even when it’s been difficult to untangle complex issues. I will so miss you in my mailbox. Best of luck to you in the new job. I hope Ferndale knows the talent they are stealing!

    • I would say that Ferndale completely understands the talent we will be receiving. Sam will be very tough to replace but Riley will continue our quest to find new ways to improve our communications with our citizens. I’m not so sure about your “Stealing” comment as this is a step up in salary, and it is very deserved.

  26. Riley,

    Your blog has become an important component of keeping up to speed on local issues, and your input here will definitely be missed.

    Best of luck in your new endeavors!

    David MacLeod

  27. I’m sorry to see the end of your blog, Riley. Your reporting was perceptive, truthful, often amusing. Ferndale is fortunate, for sure! Hope your assignment includes letting Hamsters know what’s going on in Ferndale.

  28. Best wishes to you in your new adventures!

  29. Dear Riley,

    Ditto to the acolades above. And I’ll add that this is just one more proof of how smart Gary Jensen is. Go Ferndale. May you blog “officially” there to the betterment of the Ferntucky crowd. Thank you.

  30. I am a neophyte to Whatcom County politics. Your blog got me engaged and brought me swiftly up-to-speed. Now you come out with the news you are moving on. A eulogy seems appropriate:

    The politicians who worked the backrooms and preferred to operate out of the public eye scattered like cockroaches under the spotlight that was the SweeneyPolitics blog. Much good was done in its short life, and alas, it died too young. May it Rest In Peace.

    Good luck in your future endeavors, Mr. Sweeney.
    – Mike

  31. Best of luck, Riley! Ferndale is lucky to get you, but it’s our loss!

  32. Thanks for your great work over the years, but now it’s a good time to get a regular paycheck with bennies.

    Abe Jacobson

  33. I will miss you! All the best to you and Bryna!

  34. Good luck Riley! You know more than others the tough road you will hoe to touch the conciousness of the people in Ferndale. Although we differ on how to get there…we both understand the value that people make to a community.

  35. Good luck, Riley! I’m confident you’ll easily fill my shoes.

  36. Congratulations on the new job, Riley. I hope at some later date you can return to your commentary – with new perspective no doubt!

  37. Congratulations, Riley! Thank you so much for your contributions to our community. Best wishes to you in your future endeavors and new adventures!

  38. Such adulation occurs only because it is well deserved. Make the best of your freed up time. I look forward to seeing you in a paternal role and your brother in the avuncular role.This I know. Bryna will be an incredibly good mommy.

  39. Oh, drat, just when I was counting on our mild-mannered reporter in Olympia, too! What’s a person to do? But it’s totally logical you take Sam’s place, as he was such a good blogger;(Ferndale must be where bloggers go in blogger afterlife….). good luck with everything!

  40. Congratulations Riley. I will miss your wit and wisdom. You did a fine job for us. Now you go through the revolving door into guvmint work. I am sure you will serve the people of Ferndale well, and get paid for it to boot!

  41. Riley,

    I decided I could break a long standing rule I have to not to comment on articles or blogs concerning county business or me personally, to wish you the best as you transition to a new role in Ferndale. I’ve always enjoyed reading your thoughts on issues (don’t think I always agreed!), and I appreciate that you are always polite and considerate. That will serve you well as you step into the arena of small town politics.

    I trust you will do very well in your new role. I’m looking forward to working with you and the good people of Ferndale.

    County Exec Jack

  42. Thanks for all the hard work you have done for the past 5 years. This blog has served me as an alternative to the Herald, because the information is actually true on it.

    You will do a great job as Communications Officer, to replace Sam Taylor. Maybe there will finally be some sense in the messed up Ferndale politics we have today.

  43. I’m really going to miss your informative and entertaining blog. Good luck in your new (paid) job!

  44. Congrats, Riley. You have become quite the writer. Now if you can only get Jensen to come to his senses regarding GPT.

  45. Good luck Riley! Happy for you and Bryna as you start a new chapter in your lives. Gary Jensen is a genius to steal you away from us. 😉

  46. Welcome to Ferndale City Hall, Mr. Sweeney! (I wanted to make a brief comment or two on the pulled Mutchler interview…which caused a few waves in more than one corner of my political realm. I think, though, I’ll take those to the grave….)

  47. I’ll miss your muckraking and analysis and commitment to journalism, friend! Good luck with the next things!

  48. I’ll echo the accolades and shock. Though I’ll miss reading and meeting at the watch parties, this is a good career move. I’m sure we’ll meet up again… it’s not as if you’re leaving the county.

  49. Ack!! We’ll miss you Riley, but I guess folks gotta do what they gotta do. Thanks for everything, have gotten so much good information and analysis here. Don’t think the other offerrings out there will fully fill the void left behind. Hasta Luego –

  50. I’m so sorry to see you needing to give up this blog, Riley. As a citizen of the County literally right outside the City of Ferndale, I welcome your arrival. Sam has literally shaped the Ferndale Neighbors facebook page and has limited rumor damage repeatedly. He’s become the go-to person on that page for questions about anything from water bills to staff salaries to updates on City Council. He’s been a breath of fresh air. You’ll continue that start, I’m sure. Yes, we need transparency and trust in the people who are working for us. THANKS for having the courage to step in here! Ferndale really isn’t that far from Bellingham……

  51. We hate to see the end of The Political Junkie for it has entertained and informed us.We wish you the best as you move on. Our best Wishes, Naomi and Roger Murphy

    From: The Political Junkie To: Sent: Saturday, May 9, 2015 7:42 AM Subject: [New post] The Political Junkie Gives Up the Habit, Closes Blog #yiv5415304394 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv5415304394 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv5415304394 a.yiv5415304394primaryactionlink:link, #yiv5415304394 a.yiv5415304394primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv5415304394 a.yiv5415304394primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv5415304394 a.yiv5415304394primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv5415304394 | sweeneyblog posted: “Hello Loyal Readers,It is with a heavy heart that I must close this blog. After five years and over five hundred posts, I  . . .WAIT WHAT?Yes, I’ve accepted a position with the City of Ferndale as their Communications Officer (provided the” | |

  52. Riley, I have been 9 time zones away for the past two weeks and completely out of the loop. To return today to the news you are moving on elicits many personal responses, mostly positive. I will definitely miss your columns, your interviews (including mine) and the infectious enthusiasm that you bring to every endeavor.

    That said, the Ferndale post a natural fit for you. And let’s face it, for a talented young married man with ambition and dreams, it helps to have an occupation that has a few more perks than citizen journalism ! But the fact is that you took your talents and opportunity and followed your journalistic heart without hesitation right out of college. And now you are moving forward on another path that you helped blaze yourself. Kudos. And thank you for continuing to provide a wider public eye to the citizens of Whatcom County in your new position. A definite win-win !

  53. Riley, you have certainly done this community a service. I have seen you grow — from a young wanna-be — into to a real journalist. Not just a blogger or citizen journalist, like so many of the local Whatcom internet wankers who have no real communication skills or, let alone any editorial attenuation. That said, I think I just described many of our local politicians.

    While I wish you the best of success, I also think you are literally moving in the wrong direction. You should be heading south to Seattle, a city with real media, or even Olympia, where you can actually make a difference and make a name for yourself.

    Wishing you you all the best, and hope that Ferndale is a short lived diversion.


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