A matter of public records: challenges in the quest for transparency

Click the Los Angeles Times image of farmworkers silhouetted in front of an indigo sky and the headline of the publication’s 12/9/19 article, “Berry farm company fined $3.5 million over worker abuses” to access the article on their website

March 31, 2022 Dena Jensen

From some of my experiences and observations over the course of the last year, I would say that we are in a period where the tools for community members in Whatcom County to hold their elected and appointed officials accountable are more challenging to employ in some ways. There are at least some public records requests that are being filled more slowly than they were in years past, and rules around providing open public comment at local government meetings have fluctuated, with some opportunities to do so in the City of Bellingham having been eliminated. It remains to be seen if this pans out to be a temporary phenomenon or one that we continue to increasingly struggle with.

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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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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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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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Former candidate for Whatcom County Council smears County Executive Satpal Sidhu / Noisy Waters Northwest, Sandy Robson

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Screenshot taken from a January 15, 2020, online article published by The Northern Light showing a photo of Satpal Sidhu being sworn in to office on January 11, 2020

June 17, 2020  Sandy Robson

These last few weeks or so have reflected a turbulent period of time in our nation’s history after the unmistakable and terrible scene we witnessed in Minneapolis where George Floyd, a Black man, was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who kept his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, pinning him on the ground for nearly nine minutes. Continue reading

Turning out votes in Blue Bellingham / Corky Nouveau

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November 3, 2019  Corky Nouveau

Corky fired up the MiniVan for a tour of one of the city’s neighborhoods to check up on the Hamsters’ participation in the election cycle. Only a few were flagged as “Voted,” so it was turn-out-the-base time in Blue Bellingham to counteract the efforts by the tarred and feathered candidates to turn out their Tea Party/Trumper settler base.  Continue reading

Primer on the forces behind negative campaign ads attacking Satpal Sidhu’s candidacy / Facebook post, Sj Robson

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Screen shot of the (C1 report) for the Coalition for a Better Northwest Washington filed with the Public Disclosure Commission. The C-1 report, originally filed on August 21, 2019, as shown in this screenshot, displays a submission date of October 22, 2019

November 2, 2019  Sandy Robson

Currently, Tony Larson is running for Whatcom County Executive against Satpal Sidhu. A political action committee (PAC) named the “Coalition For a Better Northwest Washington,” was recently formed to support Larson’s candidacy, and to oppose Satpal Sidhu’s candidacy. Continue reading

Tony Larson’s pro-coal past and multiple false claims are non-starters for the role of Whatcom County Executive / Noisy Waters Northwest

Screen shot of a May 9, 2017 tweet (that was subsequently removed from their Twitter feed) by Whatcom Business Alliance’s Step Up Twitter profile.

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.

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Timeline material on the delinquent proposed life safety renovations for the Whatcom County Jail / Noisy Waters Northwest

October 9, 2019 Dena Jensen

As Whatcom County moves forward with the beginning phases of their Public Health and Public Safety Initiative regarding behavioral health services, incarceration, and justice reform needs in Whatcom County — discussed in a September 19, 2019 post here on Noisy Waters Northwest — I thought it would be good for us to have some historical background and a list of materials related to the County’s progress in addressing critical life safety renovations at the existing downtown Whatcom County Jail.

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