Chapter Two: City Staff and the Mayor – Whatcom Barriers to Equity, a review for 2021 candidates / Noisy Waters Northwest

July 29, 2021 Dena Jensen

From Introduction – Whatcom Barriers to Equity, a review for 2021 candidates : 

Materials that were responsive to a number of recent public records requests obtained from the City of Bellingham, and one request from Whatcom County, provide insights into notable communications strategies of existing City staff, the mayor’s office, and some City Council Members regarding many of the winter’s events related to homelessness. On some of these matters, communications were being coordinated between the City and County executive branches.

Based on information contained in those materials, an important question arises regarding future actions of folks newly stepping up to run, or those continuing on to serve their community in public office: will they take action to eliminate government approaches that view or portray individuals and community organizations serving people in crisis as adversaries?

Chapter One: The County Executive – Whatcom Barriers to Equity, a review for 2021 candidates

Chapter Two: City Staff and the Mayor

By the time the December 7, 2020 Bellingham City Council meeting arrived last year, the protest calling for more homeless services known as 210 Camp or Camp 210, had been occupying the lawn at Bellingham City Hall for almost a month.

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Chapter One: The County Executive – Whatcom Barriers to Equity, a review for 2021 candidates / Noisy Waters Northwest

July 10, 2021 Dena Jensen

From Introduction – Whatcom Barriers to Equity, a review for 2021 candidates :

Materials that were responsive to a number of recent public records requests obtained from the City of Bellingham, and one request from Whatcom County, provide insights into notable communications strategies of existing City staff, the mayor’s office, and some City Council Members regarding many of the winter’s events related to homelessness. On some of these matters, communications were being coordinated between the City and County executive branches.

Based on information contained in those materials, an important question arises regarding future actions of folks newly stepping up to run, or those continuing on to serve their community in public office: will they take action to eliminate government approaches that view or portray individuals and community organizations serving people in crisis as adversaries?

Chapter One: The County Executive

July 14, 2021 Dena Jensen

After the unsheltered community members who had been camping at Bellingham City Hall were swept from the area known as Camp 210 on January 28, 2021, City of Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood and Bellingham Police Chief Flo Simon held a press conference that same day. They presented their points of view regarding their actions related to the militarized sweep of around 100 unsheltered individuals and their belongings. In his statement, Mayor Fleetwood asserted, “Our civic center was becoming the target of agitators far more intent on mayhem than working toward any social good.”

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Whatcom Housing Advisory Committee gets brief presentation on sheltering recommendations / Noisy Waters Northwest

June 20, 2021 Dena Jensen

Draft minutes have been posted to the June 10, 2021 Whatcom County Housing Advisory Committee meeting on the County website. This is the Whatcom County government committee that has been given responsibility by the Whatcom County Council to oversee the carrying out of long and short term sheltering recommendations that were assembled by Health Department staff.

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Pushing back on the push-back on tiny home villages / Letter to Bellingham and Whatcom County officials

Click the still frame of a YouTube video of the Bellingham City Council Community and Economic Development Committee to access the recording of the May 24, 2021 meeting

March 26, 2021 Dena Jensen

Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 09:54:49 PM PDT

Subject: Pushing back on the push-back on tiny home villages

Dear Bellingham City Council, Mayor Fleetwood, Whatcom County Council, and County Executive Sidhu:

I recently listened to Bellingham City Council’s Monday, May 24, 2021 Community and Economic Development Committee meeting. I wanted to address comments made by a couple of the City Council Members after Whatcom County Health Department Human Services Manager Anne Deacon gave her presentation. The presentation was on the Health Department’s Recommendations for Consideration by the Homeless Strategies Workgroup that the now-disbanded workgroup had voted to recommend to Whatcom County Council for approval. 

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Part One / Anatomy of a shutdown: How Whatcom officials pursued silencing one member of the Homeless Strategies Workgroup

May 15, 2021 by Dena Jensen, with significant contributions from Sandy Robson

[Author’s note: In regard to the headline, officials might have hoped to silence a few more voices, as well, but I will stick to the public records that Sandy Robson recently received from Whatcom County to let readers decide. For context, I want folks to know that I have been following Whatcom County’s Homeless Strategies Workgroup meetings since the summer of 2019 and that I am familiar with the person who was the target of County officials’ silencing efforts.

I have interacted through Facebook with Markis Stidham – Markis Dee is his profile name – over the past few years regarding civil rights and social justice issues. Additionally, Stidham met with Riveters Collective Justice System Committee, of which I am a member, on a couple of occasions. I remember seeing him twice in public, in years past, at Dignity Vigils in front of Bellingham City Hall, and shook his hand once, although I don’t think he knew who I was at the time. Stidham read a public comment of mine at a Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting on August 23, 2019.]

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Base Camp, or sweeps: City used Lighthouse Mission sheltering capacity to limit their emergency options last season

May 14, 2021 Dena Jensen

In public records obtained from the City of Bellingham, emails revealed that leading up to the 2020/2021 winter season, City Planning and Development staff told emergency winter shelter providers, with whom they had partnered the previous cold weather season, that the City would not be operating or funding such operations in the coming season.

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Take a hard look at Whatcom County’s Severe Weather Shelter history / Letter to the Homeless Strategies Workgroup

Click the graphic image presenting Recommendations for Consideration by the Homeless Strategies Workgroup discussed at their April 16, 2021 meeting to access a text version on the Whatcom County website

April 21, 2021 Dena Jensen

Below is my email, sent today, to Whatcom County’s Homeless Strategies Workgroup:

Subject: Regarding the presentation related to severe weather shelters at the April 16, 2021 Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting

Dear Homeless Strategies Workgroup:

Near the end of the the April 16, 2021 Homeless Strategies Workgroup meeting discussion, a motion was approved by the workgroup to recommend to Whatcom County Council a recommendation from Health Department/County staff. This guidance was a short term action step to establish a data collection process to assist in ongoing analysis and planning. 

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A call to stop moving dangerous and unsafe conditions to new locations in Whatcom County / Letter to Bellingham and Whatcom County officials

Credit for map image of streets and businesses in downtown Bellingham near the cross streets of Cornwall Ave. and York St.: Google Maps (modified with current Base Camp location and an arrow indicating Arlis’s Restaurant)

April 14, 2021 Dena Jensen

Keep writing your elected officials and working on sheltering solutions.

There was another encampment sweep in Bellingham at Sunset Pond Park this morning. More people without shelter displaced. Meanwhile, it’s possible one of our Port of Bellingham Commissioners is working on hiring a security guard because they don’t think the police are moving unsheltered people on to shelter and services (which currently don’t exist for many). 

Here is the email I sent about all that tonight: 

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