Just over a month ago, on July 28th when the new "Ruckelshaus Bill
" was introduced in County Council's chambers via an "informational session," WE began to explore the content and intent of a 2010, 169-page project paper entitled "Towards a natural resources marketplace in Whatcom County
What we learned by studying this paper is alarming, and we suggest that readers open and read this piece of work
as soon possible. It was principally funded by the Washington State Department of Ecology, and continues to be eagerly facilitated by a cast of contributors with striking eco-activist intentions that will profoundly affect private property rights if this proceeds silently, as so much bad policy does.
The gist of the entire work is that the "natural capital" of all
resource lands and watersheds throughout Whatcom County - in its entirety
- should be managed "for our wellbeing now and in the future."
Who should do all this managing, and how do they propose to oversee OUR
private land, OUR
property? Through an over-arching resource
exchange system -- a master "marketplace" through which citizens should cheerfully and voluntarily "trade the benefits generated from their actions in exchange for regulatory relief, permits, or payments in kind." Read that
two or three times and consider where this would take us.
The fundamental issue, as WE see it, is that the proponents of this masterplan presume that privately held property is a public
resource. The rhetoric that "agriculture is a resource" has been introduced and repeated so long, and so often, that few people stop to question it. But we think folks should.
To what extent does the categorization of privately owned
land as a "resource" -- farms (agriculture)
, forest, mineral, water, recreation, environmental, vistas etc. (tangibly, or as “values”) - entitle (a) government and (b) non-government organizations authority to regulate and manage the use of land and property by private owners?
Early in the report, we found the question, "What might be traded in a marketplace in Whatcom County?" The report answers by saying that the three components are water banking
, an ecosystem services
credit trading element, and the purchase and transfer of development densities
. "Watershed management" appears the broad brush that paints the entire county into one mega-watershed. Then this says the markeplace should also address "managing urban and built development wisely."
So, clearly the "NRM (natural resources management) Working Group" isn't simply talking about the "conservation" of agricultural land - the golden goal of 100,000 acres of private farmland. Whatever figleaf "Farm Friends" and others have been using by camping with (ag) conservation folks, the density
transfers, carbon trades
and credits, and other "elements" extend way beyond that. The intent is to wheel and deal private
"resource" allocations among
cities, between cities and unincorporated areas, between everyplace
and UGA's, and even tie-in to truly public
property like DNR land, parks, and more. Their imagination seems unlimited where it comes to wheeling and dealing both land use and
tangible rights (like water rights), everywhere.
When you open the report, you'll recognize that most of the members of the "NRM Working Group" are not
"farmers." Most are city-folk, including Futurewise and Farm Friends, planning staff from City of Bellingham and some of the small cities, County PDS (planning & development services) - plus
all those academics, consultants, and state agency bureaucrats. Look at the participant list and you'll see that this powerhouse is not now - and could never be -- directly accountable to us, the people
. That's very, very serious in itself.
Because it's impossible for us to explain all the elaborate "techniques" and "concepts" in one short post -- we suggest, again, please crack this document
open and start reading through it very carefully yourself.
When you do, note a few things about the "external reviewers" who contributed to this report:
- American Farmland Trust
-- says "WA" but this is a chapter of a huge national non-profit, with a main office in Washington D.C.
- Washington Water Trust
-- this is a Seattle-based non-profit
Also know, WE discovered that another $250,000 has already been granted
to continue this project in 2012, thanks to Washington Ecology.
So this is far from over -- it's really just beginning. The proponents have already revealed that they fancy the the new Ruckelshaus Bill, which would cinch much of this plan financially and procedurally. WE can only hope that County Council will grasp the immense risk of that, and opt-out.
We have every reason to believe that this "resource market place" group has everyone's private property - the whole county -- squarely in their sights. So, please, Watch Out Whatcom!
On August 12, just days before the local primary election, Cathy Lehman who's the president of the local Futurewise chapter (that's oh so far from "local"), and also a candidate for a Bellingham City Council seat, launched a "three e" program push here, framed under the big umbrella of 'transportation.' This group that is unelected and unaccountable to the citizenry seems bent on dominating our future. It operates in a way that looks citizen-inspired, but this is very much driven from afar. The group clearly wants their fingerprint on our economy, the environment, and to create social equity. This "transportation" angle looks engineered to capitalize on the recent "Complete Streets" bacchanalia of hope and change that just blew through town. [Review this recent WE post about the state's cash and NGO collaboration hooks.] It would seem that most Whatcom County citizens' desire to take full responsibility for their own transportation - on their own schedule, in their own style, and at their own expense -- is just too much for some "we know what's best for you" control freaks to bear. Watch out, Whatcom! This issue is going to heat up at City Hall and in the courthouse, and probably real fast.
E-Mail Blast, August 12, 2011
From: Cathy Lehman, Futurewise
The economy, environment, and social equity all require an affordable, well-functioning transportation system to thrive. But too many bridges are unsafe, cars pollute too many toxins, and not enough neighborhoods have adequate bus service.
Earlier this year, Futurewise partnered with Transportation Choices Coalition to launch a statewide, multiyear campaign called “Transportation for Washington” to address these issues. Since then we’ve worked hard in Olympia and across the state to raise awareness of transportation issues, build a movement of organizations and people, and win real results. (more)
The Whatcom Excavator editors are constantly updating content. If you haven't surfed the numerous reference pages linked to the main menu lately, WE suggest you might - there's always new material.
A few items have just been added to the Buzzwords (glossary) page including, just today: "rent seeking" and "Road Diet" and "relocalization." This terminology is very important to understand, and to watch for. We sincerely respect hard working people too much to waste their time.
Our aim is to shine as much light as possible into some very dark dealings and back rooms, and we invest a lot of effort substantiating all
the information we offer. The opinion and commentary offered at this site is far from baseless conjecture. Dredge on, citizens. And hold on to what's left of your freedom while you can.
Just a month ago, on July 13th (just as the Excavator was launched) a dog-and-pony show came to town that was a big splash in progressive circles.
Co-sponsored by Futurewise
and Sustainable Connections
(the lucrative non-profit that’s so heavily subsidized by local government), our local left-leaning friends were treated to the “Complete Streets Livability Forum and Walk
” featuring Road Diet
proponent Pete Lagerwey. WE wondered at the time, “Why here, and why now?
Is there a back-story?"
We did some dredging, and oh-boy – yes
, there is a back-story. Here’s the scoop, and it's a very deep dredge. It may take more than one sitting to take this all in and connect the dots. There are a lot of links, but they're all worth following. Check as much as you can, and you'll get the big picture pretty fast.
You will find that "complete streets" and "streetscape" programs say
transportation accessibility, safety, efficiency, and convenience, but proponents’ professed end game
is social equity and a major makeover of our culture. This has an Orwellian flavor, if not Aldous
Huxley's Brave New World
totalitarian stamp on it.Did WE find something behind the timing of the July "Complete Streets" event?
Yes, and it didn't long to discover. The Washington State legislature passed a new “Complete Streets” funding bill this spring (see H.B. 1071
) that had been in the works for over a year. It was signed by Gov. Gregoire on May 5th. Bingo! This workshop was held July 13, and the new bill went into effect July 22. What's in the bill? It offers 50:50 cash grants
from DOT for community makeovers. And, it's written in a way that gives non-profits and community activists an inside track, lots of influence, in community planning. So that’s
why the panhandlers -- whoops, experts – were trolling here.
And WE discovered that Pete Lagerwey didn’t just visit for the Futurewise-Sustainable Communities walk around town and the Pickford Theater
event. He found time to make an “informational” pitch to the Whatcom County Council of Governments (WCOG) Transportation Policy Board
while he was here. He was paving for policy.Players:
We discovered that Lagerwey was dismissed by the City of Seattle
in 2007, to the chagrin of his progressive fans. We don’t know why...but that’s interesting. How long he's been connected to "Toole Design Group
" we don't know. But we discovered that his long-time “Road Diet
” pal Dan Burden (Glatting Jackson
-Walkable Communities, Inc.
, which is a non-profit) began seeding the “complete streets” (post-carbon) mission here in Whatcom County in 2005. See Burden’s “Living/Walkability Audits
” report that was a big hit with local “it takes a village” control interests. It's offered at the Birch Bay
and east county
"community organizer" sites, maybe others too. Read through Glatting Jackson's sustainability chatter
. If you can bear a 35MB download, look through this highly revealing 143-page “webinar
” dated 2009 to see what Dan Burden and the ilk have in mind when they talk about "the Next America" (see Page 42). [For an eye-opener, see "Road Diet" at this site's Buzzwords
So, without a doubt this transportation improvement and “complete streets” movement goal is about far more than folks getting from one point to another. They want to change more than cities; they have their sights on rural areas too -- to change people's lives, to save the planet
. Small wonder that Transition Whatcom
, the anti-petroleum, post-carbon group promoted Lagerwey's visit and mission here. A growing band of folks are bent on making Whatcom County suit a singular vision -- their
vision. But this isn't local by a long-shot. There's a National Complete Streets Coalition
, plus a very partisan push for "complete streets" as a tool for change.Political Connections:
During our dredge, we discovered that "complete streets" is far from non-partisan. Check out the state House Democrats caucus blog post
on the topic, about H.B. 1071. Jim Moeller who proposed the bill has been deeply connected to Transportation Choices Coalition
for quite some time. Other politically plugged-in groups like Futurewise want the world to walk, bike, and take “transit.” WE found this grand 2009 Futurewise plan
(remember the buzzword and acronym "T
ommunities," TOC's). We had a feeling it would be dished up to us in glowing terms -- and WE just learned today that Futurewise Whatcom is doing just that, loaded with endorsements
as it's leader Cathy Lehman campaigns for a seat on Bellingham City Council
The long term goal of illiberal progressives is to transition the world away from private transportation as we know it. If the people resist, prepare to be framed as selfish people polluting the planet in toxic petroleum guzzling cars and trucks
no matter how efficient or catalytically-converted the exhaust is. The left is planning for a post-carbon world and an overall “energy descent
.” This goes far beyond "energy independence." It means to change our behaviors and lifestyles willfully, through governance
WE learned that ‘Complete Streets’ is part of a bigger – national
and global sustainability movement. Browse this 2006 program package from this 'walkability" Pro Walk/Pro Bike
conference package that “Walkable Communities
” was involved in, along with Pete Lagerway’s “Toole Design Group
." And of course, ICLEI has a dog in the hunt too. Watch for ICLEI's "Sustainable Transportation Guidelines
" and/or "Transit-Supportive Guidelines
" - ICLEI had a "complete streets" conference earlier this year in Toronto, Ontario. In the same vein, the Futurewise program is ready to roll. They've been getting a lot of practice pushing this into Spokane
, using every justification imaginable from climate change, green energy (and transit worker) job creation, to public health. Whatever it takes they'll say
, WE guess. It seems to be the "coin of the realm." It also
appears that politicians in DC
may be making wild assertions like "dangerous by design" to justify a "second stimulus" round of deficit spending for infrastructure, whether or not states and locales have unfit streets and roads. Much of this may arrive on our local doorstep through unfunded mandates.
What’s Already In Place Here:
A lot of “complete streets” theory and lingo have been gradually adopted in city and county policy, ordinances, resolutions, and code. The Whatcom County Pedestrian And Bicycle Plan
that was adopted by Whatcom County February 8th (by a 7-0 vote)
included boilerplate that came straight out of the “complete streets” playbook. Almost every “project” in it calls for state and federal funding – a huge amount of funding, and taxes. And there’s no doubt that the advisory that worked on this plan update knew that "complete streets" H.B. 1071 was in the works
– they framed the entire update to fit the pending “complete streets” bill. It was the major topic of those minutes - including a strategy for responding to resistance.
There's a long history of similar chatter at other meetings, if you search you'll find the other minutes. Point: all this has been very political.
The word “streetscape” is already imbedded in Whatcom County Code – tied in many places to (surprise!) density transfers and other development “mitigation” schemes. This will flange quite nicely into Ruckelshaus
and the "natural resources marketplace
" that the "conservation" dream team wants to collaborate.
There are so many references to "streetscape" in county code (the WCC's) we can't list them all here. Go to Whatcom County Code
and search the word "streetscape." And here's the 2009 "streetscape ordinance
" that was framed in a contorted way as an incentive
, but it will be milked for all it's worth in the long haul. For another example, read these County Council "Board of Health" committee minutes
to see how "complete streets" and transportation jump the track into the county's policy discussions about education and the health benefits of exercise.
The point is – what’s being presented as "simply improving transportation" carries a lot of water with it. It intends a virtual tsunami for social, cultural, and "economic" change. Just how 'voluntary' is all this? When only anointed/appointees and non-profits presume
to represent the public, it's very in
voluntary. H.B. 1071 "making it so" doesn't excuse this serious assault on our individual liberty, to move freely about our daily lives in the manner of our
"Complete streets" and streetscapes are tools of heavy-handed control freaks
eager to take hold of some very important reins (with a friendly smile), eased away from the grip of our elected representatives
. Outsiders have a vision for our communities, and H.B. 1071 gives these groups money and the mechanism to do it.
Our elected officials have got to get wise and start saying "no"
while the people of Whatcom County can retain an identity of their own. Abandoning us to the will of special interests through abrogation mustn't occur, however sweetly the lobbying sirens sing. We trust our officials to protect and defend our right to self determination
. There's nothing more fundamentally American than that, and it must never be sold cheap
for money and promises connected to these insidious "community makeover" transportation grants and social designs.
Yesterday the Washington State Attorney General's office released information about the new August 12 court opinion that explains why "Obamacare" (the Affordable Care Act) is not constitutional. But this doesn't seem to be getting local press. Why no press?
The long court opinion explains how big government has gone way over the line. The local illiberal progressive "camps" that want more control over our lives -- without regard for legality or principle -- may not want this "heralded."
If you can't get this kind of truth in the press, we'll bring it to you here. WE respect the conservatives and preservatives who have become the anti-establishment counter-culture. They're the new beacons of freedom.
From the Washington Attorney General's Office
July 12, 2011
OLYMPIA – The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta today issued a 2-1 opinion, ruling the federal government may not force individuals to purchase government-approved health insurance in the private marketplace.
The ruling upholds in part a decision by Florida Judge Roger Vinson earlier this year declaring the provision of the federal Affordable Care Act, requiring all Americans to have or purchase a government-approved health insurance policy in the private market, unconstitutional.
In the 304-page decision, the majority differed with Vinson on the issue of whether the entire act should be nullified, ruling instead that the so-called “individual mandate” could be struck down without declaring the entire act unconstitutional.
“Today the Court affirmed what we’ve said from the beginning of this case: that Congress does not have the constitutional authority to force Americans to ‘purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, from the time they are born until the time they die,’” McKenna said. “The Court also agrees that the individual mandate can, and in fact must, be removed from the health care bill without canceling the parts of the law that will benefit the people of our state. Health care reform is vitally important to all of us and can be achieved without violating the Constitution – the document that guarantees our individual liberties and makes ours the freest, most prosperous country in world.”
See the complete Attorney General press release here
.The whole federal opinion can be found here
. The "conclusion" is Section J; it begins at Page 166.
WE've just seen the "Year One" materials released to announce progress made in the state Deparment of Natural Resources' 2010-2014 plan, "The Goldmark Agenda
Ever heard of it? It's quite a piece of work. It says this is "the road map" for sustainable management of our state lands and natural resources. How it plans to do this is pretty chilling. DNR has put its shoulder into "generating" and "earning" millions in revenue of various kinds for "trust beneficiaries." Not little millions -- BIG millions, hundreds of millions. And a lot of this is tied to federally subsidized wind turbines on leased state trust lands. Federally subsidzed stuff isn't "free," it's not "revenue" -- these operations don't generate real profit. WE are concerned about the massive ARRA (stimulus) spending that's behind these distorted figures, related to "wind farm" revenue. Everyone should be. Energy customers, all of us, are being asked to pay even more in subsidies to support inefficient "renwables." Go back to this
post about the pending 8.1% PSE tariff for all customers to pay for wind farms, among other things.
And the terms used in this "Agenda"? Sustainable, sustainable, and sustainable
. And, this "Agenda" will have the DNR "address the challenges of climate change," complete with a "Climate Adaptation Strategy."
It's also supposed to "create renewable enegy JOBS." With something like 2% of all energy related to "renewables," that's
been a lot of help (not
There's so much to relay, we recommend that you sift the 60-page "Agenda" itself (did you catch the link
) -- and also glance through this Year One "Strategic Plan Milestones and Performance Measures" report here
to see how much money revolves around this. It's mind-boggling.
Notice that this program is loaded with rhetoric like you've never seen -- except
for what's on every page of ICLEI
and U.N.'s Agenda 21
's master plans.
Coincidence? Not in the slightest. People - this agenda is here, and it's run deep.
A warm and fuzzy, "motherhood and apple pie" item has just popped onto County Council's August 9 agenda: AB 2011-271
. Originated by Sam Crawford, this bill that doesn't require a public hearing would have the county recommend Chuckanut Rock, Lummi Rocks and Lummi Island's Carter Point (already owned by the federal government) for reclassification by the U.S. Dept of the Interior/BLM as "national conservation areas" (NCA's). Who would think that sounds anything but grr-eat
Maybe this item seems irrelevant, but WE think very little happens in the conservation world without some greater plan in mind.
A couple of readers dredged, and provided two U.S. Department of the Interior items plus substantial other documentation of BLM policies, conservation definitions, and more that made pretty interesting reading.
The first piece to see is this News Release dated June 17, 2011
that's directly tied to this resolution. It talks about 1,000 acres of federal lands in the San Juan Islands being added to a land inventory with this NCA classification (that the three don't have now), "to enhance
conservation and recreation opportunities..." as a part of the President's "America's Great Oudoors" intiative. What enhancement
these lands may receive, it doesn't actually say - or at what cost. But it promises lots of partnering and collaborating with communities, local agencies and other interested parties. And, catch this: "Salazar said conservation of the islands complements President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a conservation ethic for the 21st century and to reconnect Americans, especially young people, to the natural world."
Mr. President! We, the people, already own the land. But you think the federal government needs to make it more meaningful
, to reconnect us to it in a 21st century kinda way? Oh, brother.
A second Deptartment of the Interior/BLM Press Release published just a month later on July 19
moved on to describe Salazar's "push to build a bipartisan wilderness agenda
." While the title of the second release may seem unrelated to the San Juan Island "natural conservation area" classifications, it is
. Both "pushes" are part of the same overarching land conservation package that's headed to Washington DC. The July release and the referenced letter to Congress talk about how a coordinated plan must manage overall
"inventories of public lands and their resource and other values
..." Larsen, Cantwell and Murray have already stated support for this legislation, which will create new policies about biodiversity and other stewardship
goals that BLM has been working on.
In the parlance of eco-speak, the term values
can encompass virtually anything. The BLM talks about "making project-level decisions that could impair wilderness characteristics."
Like values, characteristics
can include anything from soup to nuts. And while there are guidelines for "wilderness," not all land has to meet the standard thresholds. WE dredged
and discovered that there are miniscule parcels that have been classified as "wildlands." What's the smallest?
Pelican Island Wilderness, northern Florida (6 acres) (Note: Until recently the Rocks and Islands Wilderness in northern California was thought to be the smallest wilderness, however, recent Bureau of Land Management acreage measurements put it at 19 acres instead of 5 acres.)
So, obviously anything
is possible. The Salazar letter asked something even more interesting: "What appropriate management changes would ensure that federally-managed lands in the San Juan Islands are conserved for future generations and are a part of the larger regional fabric of protected lands and waters?"
Now they're talking about a fabric
of protection. WE need to add that item to the buzzword
list.The warning is:
Any group or organization on a zero-net, rewilding mission can inject any manner of "value," "characteristic," "fabric of protection" or other buzzword "into the process" -- through chit-chat, correspondence, grant applications, even promotional literature -- about any given place. That's a fact. Moved by the spirit of collaboration
(another buzzword to watch for
), Salazar is reaching out to such interests to "fill in the blanks," and we think that's exactly what may happen. In fact, it appears that this County resolution starts that
Among all the WHERAS statements
in this county resolution - note that the resolution declares all three of these parcels as "ecologically important sites."
Why? WE wish we knew who added that particular phrase
to this resolution.
It says that Lummi Rocks and Carter Point (the Point is currently a lighthouse reserve
on maps) are "in close proximity to" the DNR Lummi Island Natural Resource Conservation Area. Being near
a place with "ecological values including important raptor habit" is all that's required to make another parcel "ecologically important"? Looks like it. You can build a real daisy-chain (fabric?) of ecological importance using criteria like that.
And as for Chuckanut Rock, according to this it should also be an "ecologically important site" - because this resolution says Chuckanut Bay
is scenic, with already established conservation easements, and so forth. The daisy chain grows longer.
Line up the points on a map, and it doesn't take much geography skill to notice the long term risk of this resolution and these classifications. The line between the properties crosses east-west, across the waters at the mouth of Bellingham Bay. Could a "fabric of protection" present a problem to boaters and fishermen in the future? Expansive and collaborative programs like this, that invite special interests to the game, have been tightening up access to preserved and "conservation
" land across the nation, bite by bite
through efforts like this.
When people ask, "How did things ever get so far out of control?" The answer is, "By going along, that's how."
WE expect this to be blessed 7-0 in a heartbeat on August 9, just like the Alpine Legacy
resolution was just a couple of weeks ago. It's a glowing temptation for legislators to "make this a better place." This is, after all, campaign season.
Just a quick post. For the moment, the citizen initiative against red light cameras slated for the fall ballot (for voters in the City of Bellingham) survived ATS' first court attack. But on August 17 ATS may return to court again for another attempt to stop the peoples' vote. Read the judge's decision yourself; there's a link within this Herald politics blog text. For more detail, read the WE background story here.
From Bellingham Herald, August 3, 2011
Judge Mura rules against American Traffic Solutions request to keep initiative off ballot
Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Steven Mura this morning said that American Traffic Solutions hasn’t proven that it has suffered any harm before voters get a chance to vote on the anti-traffic initiative. He denied their request for an injunction keeping the initiative off the ballot. Click here to see his decision.
The Transportation Safety Coalition, which backs the measure, called this a big legal victory. A hearing will still be scheduled for Aug. 17 in front of a judge, but, the lawyer for the group said, Mura essentially gutted the company’s arguments with his ruling this morning.
Mura delivered a written ruling by scribbling out and writing on a motion presented by the company.
A reader asked: "Is the federal government proposing regulations that would require CDL's (commercial drivers licenses) for farm equipment (aka "commercial motor vehicles") operated within states?"
WE dredged, and found the actual (federal) Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, request for comments on that subject here
. Note that this request was dated May 20, 2011, but it wasn't filed in the Federal Register until May 27th. And, comments were due on June 30th. Zippo-zango, that was quick. We'll keep this on the radar, and share the reponses when and if they're published. Legislators in the Dakotas
have been pretty unhappy about it. But the main stream media has attempted to put their concerns down as alarmist. WE're just glad somebody
in Washington DC has been awake, in the midst of the budget furor. What interest or position Larsen, Cantwell or Murray have taken is unknown. We'll do a little more searching. Meanwhile...
Answer to the reader's question: (unfortunately
) Yes and No. It's clear that the feds are
looking into reaching deeper into states' business. Why this would be necessary or constitutional
, WE cannot imagine. Perhaps the feds are looking for revenue,
to impose fees (likely). And maybe the department's looking to "create jobs" (expansion of government bureaucracy). WE have observed that this Administration just can't resist either of those temptations. And we wouldn't be surprised if there's a direct to Obama's newfound will
to manage rural America to the max (see our post on his recent Executive Order
).MORE on this topic:
Folks, please keep your eyes and ears open. WE have heard, from a reliable source, that in some local illiberal corners there's serious discussion about the need for new legislation (perhaps as soon as the next session in Olympia) to restrict the ownership of heavy equipment of all kinds in the name of "safety." Communal control freaks seem to think that ordinary citizens having their own backhoes, trenchers, bulldozers, track hoes, and large tractors shouldn't be allowed
. You'd be forced to prove that you have a "legitimate, licensed business" to own big equpment. "It's dangerous!" "Women and children could be killed at a disproportionate
rate!" "It puts too much power in one person's hands!" Oh my!! WE think this is positively bonkers - which probably means (around here) it's probably entirely true. Watch for proposed laws, state or local, on the not-too-distant horizon. Sidegame: Some groups simply don't want citizens to manage
their own land, their landscapes, or commit any
potential act of ecological irreverance
. Heavy equipment saves us the labor of backbreaking work - it's not an excess. Capiche? If you hear anything about proposed heavy equipment legislation (state or local), please share the information confidentially through the Contact Us link above, or post to Comments below.
Not paying attention to what loons get up to, and trusting our legislators to keep their heads screwed on, has cost us one liberty after another. Watch out, Whatcom!
Just as predicted, ATS (the "red light camera" company) is suing the City of Bellingham and every possible party they could drag into court, trying to block the local citizen initiative against "ATM's - automatic ticketing machines." Defendants besides the City include: Shirley Forslof, Whatcom County Auditor, Washington Campaign for Liberty, Transporation Safety Coalition (a free association of citizens), Bancams.com, and Voters Want More Choices.
We offer three items below. First the Bellingham Herald story that includes a link to the actual lawsuit. Second, an article well worth reading that describes another ATS lawsuit against San Bernadino, CA (a debacle that ended in a tidy $110,000 cash settlement). And third, we've provided Transportation Safety Coalition's own perspective on this situation.
From The Bellingham Herald, August 2, 2011 - Jared Paben
BELLINGHAM - A traffic-enforcement camera company is suing to keep an anti-camera initiative off the ballot, and city leaders want to remain neutral, the mayor said.
The City Council on Monday, Aug. 1, held a closed-to-the-public executive session in which council members discussed the lawsuit with the city attorney. Afterward, council President Stan Snapp said that, in the session, council members provided direction to staff, but he didn't specify what that direction was.
Mayor Dan Pike, in an interview, said the city won't fight or aid the lawsuit against the initiative.
"We're not going to take a side either way. We're not going to support it or oppose it," he said. "Any other way we go we have a liability issue."
Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions on Friday, July 29, filed the lawsuit in Whatcom County Superior Court asking a judge to block the initiative from reaching the ballot. (...more)
Herald link: (to the actual lawsuit
)From The Weekly Standard, August 1, 2011 - Jonathan V. Last
Rolling Back the Nanny State, One red-light camera at a time
Last March the city council in San Bernardino voted 5-0 to kill their red-light camera system. Since the cameras were installed in 2005, the program had brought them little but grief. In 2008, the city was caught shortening the timing of yellow lights in order to gin up more citations. Later that year a California appellate court ruled that the city’s contract with the red-light camera service American Traffic Solutions (ATS) was in violation of state law. And in 2010, a county court ruled that images from red-light cameras were inadmissible hearsay. The cameras were such a debacle for San Bernardino that in the end the city paid ATS $110,000 to get out of a contract that would have kept the cameras in place until 2014.
It sounds like an extraordinary story: a city, in the middle of a recession, paying a vendor to cancel a contract that is supposed to produce revenue. But it turns out that San Bernardino isn’t extraordinary at all. Across California and the rest of the country, cities and towns are dismantling their red-light camera regimes. And it’s this larger story that’s remarkable, because it shows that even at this late date, the people can, from time to time, still hold their governments to account.
Like many cultural plagues, the red-light camera originated in Europe. Invented by a Dutch race-car driver, Maurice Gatsonides, red-light cameras were installed by European municipalities throughout the 1980s to ticket drivers without the necessity of using actual police. In 1993 the sickness crossed the Atlantic, and New York City permanently installed cameras of its own. (...more)
Submitted by Transportation Safety Coalition, August 1, 2011 - Johnny Weaver
Red Light Camera Corporation Sues People’s right to Petition
Goldman Sachs-owned American Traffic Solutions loses their cool when the citizens of any community voluntarily exercise their right, as concerned citizens, to peacefully petition their government. Is this the kind of corporate bully we want running the government in Bellingham?
This is truly a David vs. Goliath story. The people of Bellingham are being sued by a multi-billion dollar Arizona corporation, American Traffic Solutions (ATS). Of course, as many of you know, Goldman Sachs bought into ATS right after they received tax funded bail-out dollars.
A sure sign you are succeeding is when you get attacked by high-dollar lawyers! We’re square in the sites of the Goldman Sachs-backed ATS corporate profit program. Please donate to defend the people against the corporate giant here: http://wacfl.com/automated-ticketing-machines-in-bellinghamOne person in Bellingham had the ability to stop American Traffic Solutions from suing the people of Bellingham. Who? Your sitting Mayor Dan Pike. Why didn’t he? The details below reveal how Mayor Pike and his new-found bankster friends at American Traffic Solutions are planning to squash the people’s voice.
On April 13th, 2011, the North West Business Club hosted a debate on the Red Light Camera program, where Mayor Dan Pike promised the people of Bellingham he would not interfere with the initiative process. But he was already planning to collude with the Red Light Camera Company; Mayor Pike then rushed to sign the contract on May 6th with ATS to install the cameras before the voter signatures even had a chance to be counted.
This contract, which only Mayor Dan Pike had authority to sign, specifically includes a lawsuit clause enabling ATS to attack the people’s right to petition their government by bullying Bellingham citizens in court with ATS high dollar corporate lawyers. It can only be incompetence or disingenuousness on the part of Mayor Pike to sign an agreement that allows a private corporation to unleash their attorneys on the mayor’s own constituents!
Mayor Pike - and only Mayor Pike - had the authority to give ATS the contractual “right” to sue the people of Bellingham. He chose to give ATS the ability by explicitly including language in the contract he alone signed. (...more)
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