A sponsored post from Whatcom Republicans just jarred its way before me in my Facebook newsfeed. It was urging folks to “read this opinion piece by the Whatcom County small city Mayors.”
I clicked their link over to The Bellingham Herald op-ed, “Whatcom View: Smaller-city mayors support Whatcom district-only voting.” There, I found that Lynden Mayor Scott Korthuis’ name was in the byline for the piece on behalf of the small city mayors. Mayor Korthuis seemed to be very concerned about how confusing the number of ballot proposals would be to voters and was quick to endorse Propositions 1, 2, and 3 at the outset of the op-ed .
How surprised are we that the small city mayors are favoring adopting and locking in district-only voting? These are the very Whatcom County Charter amendments that were approved by the Whatcom County Charter Review Commission, many of whose elected promoters have been benefited in their political campaigns by coal interest contributions made to political action committees. The small city mayors signing on to the op-ed with Korthuis (Jim Ackerman, Nooksack; Bob Bromley, Sumas; Gary Jensen, Ferndale; John Perry, Everson; and Harry Robinson, Blaine) were all signers on – guess what? – the November 29, 2012 EIS Scoping comment of support for the Gateway Pacific coal terminal pictured below.But here’s the propaganda part, as promised in the headline. A while back, it was revealed from public records that were written about in a December 18, 2014 article on Coal Stop, “Consider the $ource”, that Mayor Korthuis knowingly provided propaganda, sought from GPT spokesperson Craig Cole, to be offered to an 8th grade student (in the Ferndale school district) who was asking questions about the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point. The questions were relevant to an upcoming debate this student was going to be participating in. Sandy Robson wrote in the article:
Korthuis wrote to Cole, “I think I know the answers to the questions below, but if you could answer them, I’ll respond to the school.”
Cole replied to Korthuis about two hours later that same day, saying, “Scott—Would you like us to send them (or you) a set of issue briefs that address these issues?”
Korthuis replied to Cole:
“I think it might have more value if I send a response to their questions. It then appears more one-to-one and less propaganda (event though that is what it is).”
Now, nearly a year later, Mayor Korthuis presses ahead with some school-related propaganda, this time however, not taking the propaganda to the students, but taking the students into his propaganda. In his October 17, 2015, Herald op-ed Korthuis attempts to simplify things for voters, who he seems to feel cannot possibly understand the current voting-related propositions on the ballot:
As mayors, we often have to simplify politics for students at assemblies. So, in light of the current muddle, here’s an illustration we might offer a middle school audience. “Kids, let’s say you want to be your 7th grade classroom representative. Twelve of the 22 students in your classroom vote for you because they know you really understand what’s important to everyone in the group and what key issues are (longer breaks, vending machines with better drinks, warmer showers in the locker room). Oh, but wait. Suddenly you find out that someone changed the rules. Now, in order to become a representative you must actually win the votes of 90 kids from four other classrooms, some from elementary schools and some from schools located in different cities. How will they get to know you? How will you know what’s important to everyone from all over? Could you be a good leader and represent well? Could you get elected now? Would that work very well?”
The answer to that scenario is obvious: “No!”
Mayor Korthuis does not point out that running for classroom representative, in the way he has described, is not comparable to running for Whatcom County Council or Whatcom County Charter Review Commission. To compare more accurately with our current voting system for these county government agencies, the school analogy would have to note that the seventh grade classroom members would, in fact, get to vote for their representative in an initial “primary” vote. Once a class candidate was elected by their own roommates, then the whole school would get to choose between the room-nominated class candidates, who ultimately would be making decisions for everyone in the whole school.
Me, I am all for our countywide voting system. I like getting to choose between all of the candidates nominated in the primaries for our county government. And I like getting to see myself as part of the whole county community and not just one little slice. Nominating by district and voting for all those nominated gives me both local and countywide power.
Along with being disturbed that such misinformation is being delivered to Bellingham Herald readers, just as a side note, is anyone besides me concerned that Mayor Korthuis may actually be spreading such political indoctrination scenarios as he mentioned in his op-ed throughout middle schools in Whatcom County?
Vote for the amendment that provides for a more representative district make up:
Accept Proposition 9.
Vote against greater restrictions being imposed on our voting options:
Reject Propositions 1, 2, and 3.