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|EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OFFICERS|
Chair: Judith Akins
Vice-Chair: Stan Parker
Secretary: Nora Weaver
Treasurer: Natalie McClendon
Mentor for Committees: Bob Aegerter
NEXT BUSINESS MEETING
Monday June 8, 6:30-8:30 pm, 4682 Wynn Road, Bellingham 98226. All members are welcome to attend and participate in the meeting. Call Chair Judith Akins at 360-982-8599 with questions.
FROM THE CHAIR.
Judith Akins, 360-982-8599
May brings us into Special Session with the Legislature and the budget is being worked on. HB 5874 was revised for Engrossed which, " requires the Department of Commerce in consultation with appropriate committees of the Legislature to study the costs and benefits of retiring eligible coal plants." This means we still need to following and asking for the retirement of Colstrip.
Our Earth Day cleanup was a success with 14 energetic workers on the Diobsud Creek trail. Special thanks go out to Mark Lawler, the Sierra Club leader, who has lead this hike for the past 20 years. Mark will be leaving WA State and we wish him much success in the southwest and many happy trails. See our Facebook page for pictures and more information.
Also - please take a look at an op-ed that I co-wrote with Matt Petryni of Re-Sources. Clean, Not Coal for Energy Future in Washington State
SAVE THE DATE: BLUEGREEN ALLIANCE BELLINGHAM WATERFRONT DEVELOPMENT PUBLIC FORUM.
May 27th at Northwood Hall 3240 Northwest Ave., Bellingham, 5:30pm
Bellingham residents should have a prominent voice on how the waterfront re-development will flesh out. This forum will bring together diverse voices offering positive visions for the waterfront and encourage public input that will help ensure the process leads to a clean, sustainable waterfront and family-sustaining jobs. Speakers include: Doug Starcher and Steve Koch - Waterfront Futures Group; Jim Kyle - Working Waterfronts Coalition; Mark Lowry - NW Central Labor Council; Kate Blystone - RE Sources; Jeff Johnson - Washington Bluegreen Alliance.
THE WHATCOM COUNTY CHARTER COMMISSION District-only voting -- What's it all about?
by Natalie McClendon
There's been much hoopla about the Whatcom County Charter Review Commission proposal to change the way Whatcom County voters elect the county council. The underlying current is that by changing the way we elect the council, the balance of power on the council may, probably, shift to a pro-coal port majority. So it is worth understanding what the proposal is, and isn't.
Currently, and for most of the history of the Whatcom County Charter, six of seven council members must reside in and be "nominated" from one of the three districts. This ensures a relatively even geographic distribution of the membership of the council. Once nominated, the top-two candidates from the district are elected in the general election by the voters of the entire county. This is the same way it works for Bellingham City Council and Blaine City Council.
The voters of Whatcom County will make the final decisions on charter amendments in the November general election.
"District-only " voting, where voters only get to vote on 3 of the seven council races, was adopted in 2005 and then reversed in 2008 after one election using the district-only process. Councilwoman Barbara Brenner lead this effort to reverse it, saying that she heard immediately from some council members that they didn't represent the other districts, so they didn't necessarily care what those voters thought about the issues. District-only voting was not invented to promote the coal port -- it's been a dream of conservatives for a decade or more.
Proponents of district-only voting, mostly conservatives, say they feel under- or un-represented by the current progressive-majority council, complaining that Bellingham has "more" representation. [Progressives in Whatcom County's 42nd Legislative District could say the same thing about the conservative block of reps for that district.] Currently 3 out of the 7 council members live in rural Whatcom County -- they just don't happen to be conservatives.
The problem with going to district-only voting (besides disenfranchising all voters from a majority of the council races) is that the current district boundaries were never designed to respect "boundaries of cities, counties, neighborhoods and communities that have common interests," and to minimize their division, as Washington State law requires. Bellingham lies in all three districts. As long as the districts are only for nominating, and not for the final election, the boundaries can be crudely drawn, as they are. Here's a map.
The proponents of district-only voting describe their proposal as bringing "fairness" to voting for council. But if they were truly interested in fairness, they would give serious consideration to another proposal before the Charter Commission that would create five districts that respected communities of common interest, rather that dividing, and diluting, Bellingham's vote among three districts. Read more
CONFERENCE -- CELEBRATING OUR WATERS AND PROTECTING FROM FOSSIL FUELS
On May 13 and 14 Nora Weaver, Bob and Mary Jo Aegerter and many other engaged citizens and community leaders from the region attended a conference in Seattle held by the Lummi Nation, the Sierra Club, Climate Solutions, Earth Ministries and the Washington Environmental Council. The purpose was to discuss the impending onslaught of fossil fuel exports heading to the Pacific Northwest and impacts on communities and the environment. We heard speakers from leaders and activists, the Lummi Nation, Quinault Nation, Yakima Nation, Colville Confederated tribes and Northern Cheyenne, as well as The Sierra Club and Climate Solutions. Lots of good drumming, singing and blessings to the Earth. Planning sessions included strategies for messaging and bringing more information and engagement to the broader public about these critical issues.
CLEAN ENERGY LEGISLATION IN OLYMPIA
The Washington state legislature is currently in a special session with a long list of energy-related bills still on the agenda.A Senate bill (SB 5735) that would give utilities alternative ways to comply with the state's 15 percent renewable portfolio standard has been reintroduced. And a House bill (HB 2045) that would effectively eliminate net metering in the state is being held at the present status.
Washington is also considering the implementation of a carbon market with bills in both the House (HB 1314) and Senate (5283). A Hearing was held May 14 on a proposed second substitute bill.
The Senate is considering an extension of its alternative fuel tax credit through 2025 (SB 5445) with similar legislation in the House (HB 1396). The nonprofit group Solar Washington regularly updates a list of legislation in the state that pertains to solar and other energy-related topics.
ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT UNDER FIRE
Eight bills were introduced in Congress this month attacking the Endangered Species Act! To find out more and sign a petition visit EarthJustice
WASHINGTON STATE PLANS CLOSED DOOR MEETING ON WOLVES Read more.