October 15, 2019 Dena Jensen
To me, the biggest argument against Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) president, Tony Larson, being elected as Whatcom County Executive, is that he makes false statements. Over the last number of years, Mr. Larson made numerous false claims which have targeted numerous Whatcom County Council Members and others. Meanwhile, it is additionally unacceptable that during our current climate crisis, Tony Larson has made himself a champion for fossil fuel expansion, including a massive coal export project, at Xwe’chi’eXen, Cherry Point, and is now allowing himself to be promoted through the endorsement of the pro-Trump Whatcom County Republican Party.
The following is a brief run down of a few of Mr. Larson’s unsavory actions and associations:
1. Mr. Larson’s WBA falsely stated in at least two different 2016 letters to the Whatcom County Planning Commission, one of which was signed by Tony Larson that school districts were members of a Cherry Point coalition/stakeholder group which the WBA was allegedly facilitating. When contacted, no school district leadership was aware of any involvement by their district in such a coalition.
From a 2016 blog post by Sandy Robson:
“Mr. Larson sent an October 24, 2016 letter to Planning Commission Chair Nicole Oliver, asking for an opportunity for what he described as a ‘coalition’ of Cherry Point stakeholders, to meet with the planning commissioners during the commission’s review of the amendments. He stated the following in the first paragraph:
“The Whatcom Business Alliance is facilitating work on the comprehensive plan process for a group of CherryPoint stakeholders. The coalition consist of Cherry Point industry, contractors, land owners, elected officials, chambers of commerce, school districts, fire districts and churches.” (I have attached a screenshot photo of Mr. Larson’s October 24, 2016 letter).
Lynden School District Superintendent Jim Frey responded back to me in a January 18 email, and said:
“The Lynden School District is not a member of the coalition nor am I aware of any involvement with the coalition.”
“Each email response I received from the rest of the school districts’ superintendents I had contacted all had similar responses to Mr. Frey’s response to me. According to the email responses I received from all of them, none of the school districts I contacted were members of the ‘coalition’ that WBA President Larson had referenced in his October 24, 2016 letter to the Planning Commission. (I have attached screenshot photos of each of the four email responses from the four superintendents I received).”
Here is a link to a blog post this information is excerpted from: https://noisywatersnw.com/2017/02/06/larsons-wba-claim-that-school-districts-are-members-of-their-cherry-point-coalition-facebook-post-sj-robson/
2. On a March 8, 2017 KGMI Morning Show he guest-hosted, Mr. Larson made this statement:
“And what seems to be happening is that the County Council, in some cases, like for example, trying to limit exports, period, from Cherry Point, or export, exports of any kind of legal products.”
Not true. The Council has only placed a moratorium on the export of certain types of fossil fuels out of Cherry Point. They have placed no prohibitions on the export of other types of products out of Cherry Point.
Here is a link to a blog post this information is taken from: https://noisywatersnw.com/2017/03/20/preserve-and-protect-xwechiexencherry-point-slide-show-noisy-waters-northwest/
3. The WBA, which Mr. Larson is President of, asserted in 2017 on their preservecherrypoint.com website (which currently reroutes visitors to the WBA Policy Center webpage that was created in 2019) that “The Whatcom County Council is considering passing a study to kill jobs at Cherry Point and cut education funding for schools in our communities.”
According to the actual proposed Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan language at that time, the study was to, “examine existing County laws…and develop recommendations for legal ways the County can work to limit unrefined fossil fuel exports from the Cherry Point UGA.”
Here is a link to a blog post this info is taken from: https://noisywatersnw.com/2017/03/20/preserve-and-protect-xwechiexencherry-point-slide-show-noisy-waters-northwest/
4. Mr. Larson is allowing himself to be endorsed by an organization that actively engages in supporting the politics of hate: the Whatcom County Republican Party. The Whatcom Republicans have demonstrated their enthusiastic support of the re-election of Donald Trump in 2020.
Here is a link to a blog post this info is taken from: https://searchlightreview.com/2019/08/13/which-leaders-will-stand-up-against-the-politics-of-hate/
5. Mr. Larson has made false statements against water protectors in WBA’s Business Pulse magazine. He falsely claimed in two different instances that water protectors had unlawfully entered businesses to protest. According to Police Chief David Doll that since those water protecters had entered the businesses during their business hours, they had not unlawfully entered those businesses.
Here is a link to a blog post this info is taken from: https://searchlightreview.com/2018/04/04/water-protectors-targeted-by-wba-presidents-false-alarms/
6. Mr. Larson perpetuates the false claim that there is an organization whose stated mission is to de-industrialize Cherry Point. The most recent instance of Mr. Larson’s assertion was at a March 19, 2019 Cherry Point Impact Study event held at the Bellingham Country Club, which I attended. His false assertions at the event, like this one, along one that the County Council was trying to sneak in Comprehensive Plan language, without discussion, led to complaints about this by two Port Commissioners, one of which publicly denounced the County Council Members in one of their Port Commission meetings
Here is a link to a blog post this info is taken from: https://noisywatersnw.com/2019/04/23/port-commissioners-comments-on-cherry-point-amendment-process-and-climate-strike-youths-at-their-3-19-19-meeting-letter-to-port-of-bellingham-commissioners/
7. After the Gateway Pacific coal terminal failed to receive a critical permit from the Army Corps of engineers in 2016, Mr. Larson’s Whatcom Business Alliance’s Step Up Twitter profile made this post on Twitter in May of 2017. The image was removed only subsequent to a letter that was sent out by Stand.earth in May of 2017 alerting WBA members to the fact that Mr. Larson’s Whatcom Business Alliance appears to be leading the political charge for coal and fossil fuel exports through our community.
Here is a link to a blog post this info is taken from: https://noisywatersnw.com/2017/06/01/whos-the-threat-stand-earth-or-liberty-road-and-common-threads-northwest-noisy-waters-northwest/