November 12, 2017 Irene Morgan, Founder, Restorative Community Coalition
A hardy THANK YOU to everyone who stood tall in opposition to the now defunct jail tax – Proposition 2017- 6. You did NOT “Stand Down”, it was NOT a “Done Deal”, the “Ship had NOT Sailed”, the “Train is STILL in the Station” and it was NOT “a waste of our time”! The voters said NO, with an even greater margin – again!
I like to give credit where credit is due, so this is also an acknowledgement of Mayor Jon Mutchler who voted to run the jail tax on the 2017 ballot. Without Mr. Mutchler’s disparaging comments about 7 council members who did not follow the leader, I would not have known to acknowledge their bold actions. Last week we journeyed to 3 Councils to present 7 council members with Appreciation for Courage & RIGHT ACTION awards and Change Agent badges: Ferndale – Cathy Watson and Teresa Taylor, Bellingham – April Barker and Dan Hammill, Whatcom County – Ken Mann, Barry Buchanan and Todd Donovan.
Also Lynden Mayor Scott Korthuis indicated he did not know who the Vera Institute of Justice is and had not read their report to Whatcom County and how we can reduce our jail population by at least 30%. If these dozens of other council members had bothered to read this report they may have voted differently. The Vera report totally validated the work of our Coalition. In 2015 we published and distributed our “Stop Punishing Tax Payers, Start Building Community” report to all councils and the public.
In 2015, our President, Joy Gilfilen, ran for County Executive and was the only candidate who openly opposed the jail tax, educating the public, creating enough doubt for voters to turn it down. Our County Council formed the Incarceration Prevention & Reduction Task Force and soon after hired Vera Institute, renowned researcher, to investigate our “justice system” which produced a scathing condemnation of our policies and procedures. Don’t believe me – unlike Mayor Korthuis, go educate yourself. Don’t play blind mans bluff and be led down a dark hole of disaster for our county. If their jail plan were implemented, over time it would bankrupt this county. http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/DocumentCenter/View/31476
The RCC has filed yet another complaint with the State AG & Public Disclosure Commission regarding election law violations during the campaign which include copyright infringement, alteration of photo, possible use of staff/offices in jail campaign, non-compliance to PAC regulations to name a few.
If you want to know how we can reduce the jail population, which I believe has been kept artificially overcrowded, see Bellingham’s report on their new practices and savings to their city. https://www.cob.org/gov/council/issues/Pages/Reducing-Avoidable-Incarceration.aspx. Bellingham has formed the first Justice Committee in our county.
The Lummi Nation is also doing great work in keeping their citizens out of the jail with new programs and policies.
Irene Morgan, Founder
Restorative Community Coalition