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Even if county government is facing a real budget problem, there is something truly disheartening in the cynical way it is asking us taxpayers to raise our taxes. It is as if the County Council has become its own cadre of tea baggers and decided that if the fictional notion of “Death Panels” can undercut meaningful discussion about health-insurance reform, then perhaps “Death Panels” can scare county voters into increasing our property taxes.
The Journal has been covering the campaign issues since long before the campaigns began. We’ve watched the issues develop, we’ve covered the discussions in public forums, we’ve talked to the candidates as they emerged and became involved. We’ve questioned the candidates, investigated their claims, explored their pledges. The following candidates are the ones we feel have the best understanding of issues, the most solid plans for the future, the most ability to build consensus on difficult issues, and the best skills to get the job done. We recommend their election.
They want to make decisions on your behalf. They want to decide how your tax dollars are best spent. And in some cases, the privilege of representing you will come with compensation and full health benefits – better than many of their potential constituents receive. “They” are the candidates for office in the Nov. 3 general election. This election is significant in many ways: For the first time in 12 years, there are more than two candidates for mayor of Friday Harbor.
Recently, a guest column by Robert Low appeared in The Journal, as well as on SanJuanJournal.com regarding purchase of a specialty fire engine by the Town. On behalf of the Town, I am writing to clarify some points made by Mr. Low and correct some inaccuracies.
Now, the federal government wants to hear from you. On Monday, 7-9 p.m., in the Grange Hall in Friday Harbor, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, will host a meeting to hear public comment on its vessel distance and no-go zone proposal.
I’m optimistic that a strong stewardship ethic remains in this community, although currently quieted by the budgetary unrest and a debate characterized by a stark lack of civility that goes unquestioned. I’m also ready to step up with others in my community to do what I can locally to ensure that future generations experience restored salmon, rockfish, seabird and marine mammal populations in the waters of the San Juans.
Carrie Lacher and Robert Low, candidates for mayor of Friday Harbor, submitted these guest columns on two pressing issues of the day. You can read profiles of the candidates in the Aug. 26 and Sept. 16 editions of The Journal, as well as on SanJuanJournal.com.
We must not forget: We have a justice system. Each of us has a constitutionally protected right to a fair trial. Each of us, when accused of a crime, is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Facts will be presented, testimony will be given, and all evidence will be weighed at a public trial.
Proposed changes to the county’s Critical Areas Ordinance would have significant impact on how we build, and where we build, in the San Juans. In these guest columns, Gordon White of the Department of Ecology and attorney Dennis Reynolds argue the science behind the proposed changes.
Local and federal government agencies will make decisions soon that could have far-reaching effects on how we build our homes, how we can use our fairgrounds, how our urban growth areas accommodate growth, and how we develop the waste transfer station on San Juan Island. Several public meeting are scheduled to take public comment on these issues. Go. Listen. And share your view. This is your opportunity to influence decisions that could affect you.
The resident orcas are here mostly from May to September, hunting once-abundant salmon runs. Today, that prey is depleted. A major humpy run is passing through the San Juans right now, but if you’re an orca you have to catch more humpies than you do a massive chinook. And you have to do it in waters that are polluted. Those problems extend beyond a half-mile boundary, and they extend beyond May to September. Those problems are regional and they are year-round. We need to enforce the laws we have now. We need to promote alternative ways to watch the whales and other wildlife. We need to keep improving salmon habitat. We need to keep cleaning up the sea.
Change will not happen without ongoing community input. As such, I encourage you to contact the Town Council to make appropriate modifications in the current roads and for future construction before somebody is hurt.
It is time to evaluate all the options we have with regard to the orca protection proposal by NOAA. The public comment period ends Oct. 27, less than a month from the end of our busy season. We need more time to analyze the whole of the situation and formulate alternative proposals. There are some good ideas floating out there of options and ways to deal with this.
The Friday Harbor Town Council should grant David Taylor’s request for a driveway at his house on Guard Street. For two years, Taylor has wanted to get in and out of his car without fear of getting struck by a passing vehicle. For two years, he has wondered how his property, facing a minor arterial road, came to be landlocked, without access from the front or rear of the property. And he’s wondered why he can’t have a driveway although his neighbor has one.
When I thought about the experiences and challenges I’d face as your state senator, I didn’t think that in my first year I’d find myself on the front lines of a fight that’s been brewing over the last 40 years. From the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York, to the protests last year in California over the passage of Proposition 8, to rallies at state capitals this year, same-sex couples have been fighting against discrimination and working toward equality all across America — with limited success.
But this is only a beginning. Whether on island or the mainland, we should always ask for to-go containers made from compostable or recyclable materials. We should always seek to reduce the packaging that comes into our lives when we shop. “Reduce, reuse, recycle” must be our mantra.
Lime company town or resort town, Roche Harbor has always been a community of people | Editor’s Notebook
Since 1886, Roche Harbor has been a lime company town and a resort town. But the common thread – a thread dating back earlier than the settlement era – is that it’s always been a community of people. To all those who participated in the July 18 luncheon and book signing, thank you. And welcome home.
Ecology has provided training on wetland science to more than 1,500 people from local, state, federal and tribal governments and business. Over 100 local jurisdictions have already based their wetland ordinances on our guidance.
Continued noncompliance with guidelines requires the implementation of orca protections | Guest Column
With the recent news that NOAA Fisheries has proposed vessel regulations to reduce vessel disturbance to the endangered population of Southern Resident killer whales, it is important that everyone take the time to better understand the very real issues we are facing.
At one time, the Best Available Science told us only that the earth was flat and that it rotated around the sun. This was based on limited observations without correct scientific study. Unfortunately, we have a similar situation facing San Juan County today. It is of the utmost importance that as legislators you maintain the independence of science from policy pressures. This is the only way to ensure legitimacy and quality of science.
We’re starting to see some light on the horizon when it comes to restoring salmon, and we have good management to thank for it. But despite the ground we've gained, we are losing habitat faster than we can restore it.
When tragedies happen in our island communities, anger, grief and shock can pull us together or pull us apart. Sometimes it’s a little of both.
We're doing this for EVERYBODY'S GRANDCHILDREN, not just ours. The more we can find out about what is good for us and all creatures large and small, the better off we'll be.
Human/whale encounters in the whale’s environment is nothing but positive for both species | Guest Column
Orca Relief would better serve the orca if they would stop splitting hairs over what you perceive as a loophole in the whale-watching rules and stop distracting the public from the real issues these whales are facing that may cause their demise: salmon depletion and pollution of their environment.
Times are tough right now. But for just a few dollars, and a little bit of your time, you can bolster cancer research and help provide services for local cancer patients. This year, Relay for Life is July 25-26, 2:30 p.m. to 11 a.m., on the Friday Harbor High School football field.
State law and the state Supreme Court indicate meetings and records of PeaceHealth’s governing board, to be appointed to oversee operations of the proposed hospital on San Juan Island, must be open to the public. Openness is a good thing. And we are encouraged by Jim Barnhart’s comments; he is CEO of PeaceHealth’s Suislaw Region in Oregon and has been appointed by PeaceHealth to lead the planning and development of the proposed hospital here. He said of open public meetings and public records requirements: “We, of course, would abide by any requirements that exist.”
I invite anyone who questions the current importance of the ACLU to visit the ACLU Web site at aclu.org. The ACLU has worked since 1920 in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Summarized below are but a few examples of the recent diverse activities of the ACLU.
Here's a well-deserved shout-out for Paul Spencer, firefighter/mechanic for the Friday Harbor Fire Department. Spencer took a break from scrambling eggs at the department's July 5 pancake breakfast to help a Lummi Nation artist whose car wouldn't start.
Any other year, if you miss the island’s Fourth of July celebration, you could say, “Oh, well, there’s always next year.” If you miss this year’s celebration, you’ll have to wait another 100 years. So don’t miss it.
Newspapers, schools, government ... all are among the many institutions who are chided if they don’t fly the flag on Flag Day. We used to fly it at The Journal when our offices were on Guard Street, before moving to Mullis Street a few years ago. Only trouble, we were on the first floor and we lost a few flags.
It’s Baby Season. Deer fawns, fox kits, raccoon kits and other cute little wild babies are out there and people just can’t resist the temptation to feed them. Some folks assume that a baby on its own must be hungry and they should “take care of it,” while others use food to tempt a youngster closer to get a good photo. Either way, it is not good news for the young wild animal.
There are activities we’ve seen on the American Camp prairie that distress us: Visitors to the park stop their cars and lure fox kits with food so they can snap a photograph. Visitors let their dogs run off leash. A jogger runs through the park, letting her dog run free and bark at wildlife. These activities are distressing because they upset the self-sustaining balance of prairie life. They are also against the law.
Congratulations on reaching this milestone in your life. As you stand on the threshold of adulthood, prepared to take on the world, here are some things we want you to know.
In the outbreak of the current novel influenza, the management and dissemination of information both locally and nationally has been much better than it was 33 years ago. But the technical jargon and terminology has made it difficult for many to understand the vast amount of information that has been publicized. So, let’s decipher a few terms.
In these efforts, our community is the embodiment of the often-cited quote from Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” As I am walking out in the woods we now share and pass a fellow islander, these will be the words on my mind.
‘It is for them we mourn and for them that we search our hearts for that deeper meaning that is never fully satisfied’ | Guest Column
Memorial Day belongs to the fallen. It is for them we mourn and for them that we search our hearts for that deeper meaning that is never fully satisfied. Those of us who have been on the point of our nation’s interests know this.
A good decision does not need to be defended. Good choices stand on their own merits. This was not the case in the recent guest column of May 6 by County Council members Pratt and Peterson.
Have an idea of how to make the community a better place in which to live, play and work? There’s no better chance than now. Run for public office. As a candidate, you will contribute to public discussion about issues. If you win, you will — depending on the position with which you will be entrusted — make decisions that affect our level and quality of local education, fire protection, health care, port services, recreation, sewer and water service, and other public services.
A single-car accident striking a power pole in Sedro-Woolley left more than 100,000 people in five counties without electricity. Here at the end of the long “extension cord” to the islands, power restoration started about 9 p.m., with some areas reporting the outage lasting until 10:30 p.m. In the islands, we are more used to these outages occurring during wind, or winter storms. After these storms and outages, we usually remind folks of the steps we can take as individuals to help our community prepare for these events.
In this era of economic uncertainty, good news regarding savings and investments is always welcome. Here’s some: You’re going to see a sizable reduction in your 2010 property tax bill. You can help save school sports and still see a sizable reduction.