Tag: Dan Pike
By John Stark
Opponents and supporters of the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export pier packed a meeting in Spokane on Tuesday night to offer their comments and viewpoints on the environmental impact scoping process.
Spokane could potentially get a really big increase in rail traffic if Gateway Pacific and other export terminals are built, because much or all of that coal would likely be routed through the city.
Backers of the terminal acknowledged they paid some people to hold some of the limited number of speaking slots in Spokane. Those slots are given to the first people waiting in line when doors open.
SSA Marine, the company proposing the terminal, did the same thing at the Nov. 29 meeting in Ferndale, SSA spokesman Craig Cole said in an email:
“The long lines and mid-day meetings make it impossible for working people, busy parents, elderly, and the disabled to get a slot to speak. An elderly supporter at Ferndale testified he had stood in line at Bellingham and never got a chance to speak, although he did catch pneumonia instead. We have had many supporters complain that they were being shut out of the process and asked for help in allowing their voices to be heard, especially in greater Whatcom County (the center of which is Ferndale) where support levels are in the majority and the venue is accessible. After we realized that our supporters were being prevented from testifying at earlier meetings, we took a page from the opposition strategy for the Ferndale meeting and had people hold spots in line for supporters wishing to speak. Some were paid temporary event set-up staff (who also handed out t-shirts and other materials and put up signs) and some were volunteers, just like opposition groups are doing.” (end Cole statement)
Another SSA spokesman, Gary Smith, emailed me a video clip in which a man in a tie-dyed shirt is talking to anti-terminal people getting off a bus in Spokane, and informing them he has people holding four places in line for tribal representatives.
Some will see a difference between paying people to stand in line, and having zealous volunteers ready to do it for free.
Former Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike, in a phone chat earlier today, feels that way.
“If you really can’t get folks that you claim are supporting you to show up and help out … then I think that shows something,” Pike said.
Pike also acknowledged that terminal opponents were holding places for other people in line at the Bellingham meeting at Squalicum High School on Oct. 27.
“I was in line and there were people ahead of me holding places for other people,” Pike said.
Pike also observed that the purpose of these meetings is to gather input on the issues that need to be included in the environmental impact statement. While public testimony in front of a microphone is a valuable part of that process, Pike doubts that many issues are in danger of being overlooked at this point, with written comments being submitted by the thousands.
“They probably have 99.9 percent of potential comments already entered,” Pike said.
At this point, opponents and backers of the terminal seem to agree that the process of allocating a limited number of open-mike opportunities has been aggravating.
“Speaking for myself only, I think the method of distributing speaker numbers has been frustrating to people on all sides,” Cole said. “It creates a competitive race to get in line early, and if you snooze, you lose. Without being critical of the agencies that are doing their best to facilitate input, it seems like a lottery system or something like that would be more orderly and equitable.”
Cole also reports that the public agencies, SSA spokesmen and project opponents are talking about what can be done to address the situation at this point.
Some of the people who still hope to save the waterfront Granary Building will be at this afternoon’s Port of Bellingham commission meeting, hoping to convince commissioners to give the 1928 waterfront structure one more chance at a new life.
The Granary Building was built in 1928 as the focal point of a once-booming egg and poultry business in Whatcom County. It has been vacant for decades, and was the property of Georgia-Pacific Corp. before that company shut down its waterfront pulp and paper operations and handed over its 137 acres of industrial land to the port in 2005.
Since that time, port officials have argued that the building is not salvageable. They say seawater seeps into its basement at high tide. In May 2012, Port Environmental Director Mike Stoner told Bellingham City Council that it would cost $14 million to make the building usable again, amounting to $533 per square foot.
Former Mayor Dan Pike and his staff favored preservation of the Granary and other old waterfront structures if possible, but current Mayor Kelli Linville and her staff now seem to agree that the Granary must go, partly because it would block the best route for street access to a redeveloped waterfront.
Developer John Blethen is not convinced.
Blethen, who has been involved in waterfront issues for years as a member of the Waterfront Futures Group, Waterfront Advisory Group, and unsuccessful port commission candidate, agrees that the $14 million price tag for a Granary rehab is a deal breaker if it is accurate. Blethen wants the port to give independent experts and would-be investors more access to the building to see if they agree that the cost would be that high.
Then, investors and developers could come to the port with their plans for reusing the building.
“The port needs to decide that they will at least explore saving this building,” Blethen said. “They could do a request for proposals before they knock the building down.”
Blethen said he and others expect to raise the issue during the public comment period at the start of the 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 17 commission meeting at Harbor Center, 1801 Roeder Ave. Commissioners are also scheduled to get an update on the building from port staff.
Blethen noted that earlier cost estimates for a Granary rehab were about $6 million, and he thinks the job would be feasible in that range. But he also said he’s not in a position to undertake the project himself.
A new group called Protect Whatcom has fired up a website as part of a countywide effort to encourage people to get involved in the environmental review and permitting process for the Gateway Pacific Terminal project that SSA Marine has proposed for its property at Cherry Point, just south of the BP refinery.
Organizer Terry Wechsler, who describes herself as a retired public interest attorney, said she did not wish to be critical of the “Coal-Free Bellingham” initiative campaign to get a ballot measure that supposedly would outlaw the passage of coal trains through the city. But she also said that the leaders of that effort are mistaken “legally inaccurate” in saying that the local, state and federal regulatory process can’t be counted upon to block the coal terminal proposal.
As Wechsler sees it, the State Environmental Policy Act sets stringent standards for environmental review that could, in fact, block SSA Marine’s plans if studies show the coal terminal could not be built without harm to the environment.
She noted that the environmental impact statement for the project will consider “no action” as one of the alternatives for the Cherry Point site.
“We want to teach people how to be a part of the process,” Wechsler said. “The process is going to work more effectively with more participation … Everyone should consider the impacts on them of a project of this magnitude. When enough public voices speak out about a project, it can stop a project.”
Former Bellingham mayor Dan Pike, who is not directly involved with either Coal-Free Bellingham or Protect Whatcom, said he agreed with Wechsler that the environmental review process could succeed in stopping the coal port.
“I fully agree with that,” Pike said. “In fact, I’m very confident of that … I share faith in the process if people are engaged.”
Pike too said he had no wish to criticize the Coal-Free Bellingham initiative effort.
“I think it serves a positive purpose overall,” Pike said. “It keeps people focused on the importance of the issue.”
Pike also doubts that such an initiative will survive a court review, since the Constitution gives the federal government, not local communities, the authority to regulate interstate commerce.
“I don’t see them (courts) saying you can just overturn the Constitution without having amendment and conventions to change it,” Pike said.
Stoney Bird is a former corporate attorney active in the anti-coal train initiative effort. He argued that the continuing deterioration of the global environment is evidence that the existing system of environmental regulation doesn’t do enough. As he sees it, the permit process facing Gateway Pacific is geared to the enventual granting of permits.
“Although a few projects may have been stopped, overall, projects get approved,” Bird said. “The system is slanted. The system is biased.”
But he doesn’t reject Protect Whatcom’s approach, either.
“I would never say that people shouldn’t pursue the conventional regulatory route, because it might succeed,” Bird said.
I’ll have a full report online and in the print edition soon.
In a lengthy post on Facebook, Mayor Dan Pike explains his rationale for warning Occupy Bellingham protesters to leave their Maritime Heritage Park campsite by 9 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28, or face eviction.
“For better or worse, I accept responsibility for the decision, which was a challenging one to make, and not one made lightly,” Pike wrote.
“People ask me why do this now? Some suggested I could leave this for Mayor-elect Linville. In fact, I could not. For four years I have prided myself on taking what I felt was the right course for Bellingham, regardless of what it meant to my personal image with some groups or individuals. The test has always been, ‘What is in the best interest of the entire community, on a sustainable basis.” I am not going to switch standards now.”
Pike’s term of office ends Saturday. He could easily have walked away from this situation.
BELLINGHAM—Kelli Linville’s lead over Mayor Dan Pike stood at 406 votes after the Thursday, Nov. 10 tally out of 19,332 cast, and both candidates are still sweating out upcoming vote counts.
“Two years in a row,” an exasperated Linville said. “This is hard.”
How hard will it be for Pike to close that gap? It depends on how many city ballots remain to be counted. Pike said he thinks there will be 7,000 to 9,000 more, and that the later ballots will tend to be more favorable to him than the early ones.
Next count won’t come until Saturday. Honor our veterans tomorrow. (and other days too of course.)
After the counting of less than 3,000 additional city ballots, former state legislator Kelli Linville increased her lead over Mayor Dan Pike by 35 votes, for a total of 423, although Pike’s percentage of the vote total did increase by about one-tenth of one percent.
While Pike sounded less optimistic than he did on Tuesday, he wasn’t ready to concede. Nor was Linville readyto start preparing her State of the City speech for next January.
We’re going to have to do this again tomorrow.
At his Election Night bash at the Bayou on Bay Restaurant, Mayor Dan Pike sounded calm and confident after the first vote count showed him trailing Kelli Linville 51-49 percent.
Pike noted that on primary night, he also trailed Linville, but had a narrow lead once the final votes were tallied. He said he was “reasonably confident” that was going to happen again.
A few blocks away at The Copper Hog, former Mayor Mark Asmundson gave Kelli Linville a hug and told listeners that Linville’s lead will grow, not shrink, as the remaining votes are counted. He predicted she will finish with 54 percent.
The next count will be released late tomorrow afternoon. The outcome may become clear at that point. Or not.
In an email message, Washington State Democrats chairman Dwight Pelz points out that the state organization has not endorsed the reelection of Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike, although the state organization’s name appeared on a pro-Pike flier sent out by Washington Conservation Voters.
Here is the email from Pelz:
Date: November 5, 2011
To: Interested Parties:
From: Dwight Pelz, Chair, Washington State Democrats
Re: Endorsements in the Bellingham Mayoral Race
“In light of recent confusion caused by a campaign mailer funded by the Washington Conservation Voters in support of Mayor Dan Pike, I would like to clarify that the Washington State Democratic Central Committee has not endorsed a candidate in the Bellingham mayoral race.
“Washington state law requires Washington Conservation Voters to disclose the top five donors to a PAC, in this case the Washington Conservation Voters Action Fund, on such campaign mailers. The Washington State Democratic Central Committee (State Party) did donate to the WCV Action Fund, but not for the purpose of sponsoring any specific mailer. This should not be misinterpreted as support for or an endorsement of Mayor Pike.
“Comments by supporters of Mayor Pike on Facebook referencing that the Washington State Democrats funded this campaign mailer are misleading. The decision to send this mailer was that of WCV. Again, we have not supported any candidate in this race.
” We wish both candidates the best of luck as we enter the final weekend before Election Day.”
Kelli Linville and her campaign manager, Vanessa Blackburn, are calling my attention to something that I overlooked yesterday in compiling my report on campaign fundraising by Linville and her opponent, incumbent Mayor Dan Pike.
Besides raising $81,763, as I reported in today’s newspaper, the Pike campaign also reports $19,705.60 in debts. These debts are unpaid bills, and they are itemized on the Pike campaign’s most recent C4 financial report.
Most of it–$13,514.60–is owed to Winpower Strategies, the political consulting firm that we mentioned in a blog post yesterday. Other creditors include campaign manager Isabel VanDerslice and some local firms involved in various aspects of campaign advertising: Shew Design, Bellingham Screen Printing, Vid-Smith, and Copy Source, plus $252 owed to Pike himself after he apparently paid that sum for an ad in The Bellingham Herald.
Perhaps those of you who have experience in campaign finance management can comment on whether this is a big deal. Please don’t let your opinions of Pike or Linville influence your analysis.
A group of 13 Republican precinct committee officers issued a press release today announcing that they support Kelli Linville for mayor.
The 13 are Gabe Martin, Jill Brown, David Ladiges, Barb Del Wraa, Bruce Ayers, John Busch, Jan Brown, Bill Geyer, Terry Montonye, Jon Soine, Kathy Kershner, Lurene Gisee and Dusty Gulleson.
“As Republicans, we value efficient local government, clear budget priorities, and leadership to deliver quality services to the public,” the press release said. “The mayor sets the tone for embracing fee enterprise and individual initiative, economic growth and equality under the law. At this time, for the next four years, we believe the best candidate to be the next mayor of the city of Bellingham is Kelli Linville.”
Linville is seeking to unseat incumbent Mayor Dan Pike.
I’m working today on a campaign finance story that will examine the campaign treasuries of the Bellingham mayoral and Whatcom County Executive candidates. Nothing terribly surprising to report, but I found it interesting to note that Winpower Strategies of Seattle is playing a significant role in Mayor Dan Pike’s reelection campaign.
Public Disclosure Commission records show that Pike’s campaign put the firm on a $500 retainer in April 2011, and has paid a total of $19,235.54 to the firm this campaign season, out of a total campaign war chest of $81,763.28.
Update: Isabel VanDerslice, Pike’s campaign manager, said most of the money that has gone to Winpower covered the cost of designing, printing and mailing campaign literature. About $2,500 of the money was for other consulting services.
Aside from the $2,500, the money paid to Winpower is what the campaign would have paid to a graphic designer and a mail house here, if the Pike campaign had done those chores in-house, VanDerslice said. (This paragaph has been updated after VanDerslice told me I had quoted her incorrectly.)
She said Winpower’s principal, John Wyble, “is helping us out, but on a really small scale.”
(Pike’s opponent, Kelli Linville, has raised $72,363.16, according to the PDC reports online. On Oct. 27, the Washington state chapter of the Sierra Club sent out an email to members, correcting an earlier report from the Sierra Club that claimed Linville was outspending Pike 3-1)
Here’s how Winpower describes its service, on the website linked above:
“Campaigns are about telling a story. Your story. It’s not some fabricated story created by somebody in a high rise across the river from the White House. It’s a story about why you live in the northwest and what you want to do make it a better place.
With thirty five years of combined experience in northwest politics, we can help you figure out how to tell your story, when to tell it, which broadcast medium to use and who needs to hear it so you can win.
We believe there are a lot of thoughtful citizens out there who should be dedicated public servants. We do this work because we want to help those citizens become our next generation of leaders.”
At today’s City Club meeting, one questioner asked mayoral candidate Kelli Linville about the 2010 campaign contributions she got from coal terminal developers and from SSA Marine spokesman Craig Cole during her unsuccessful run for reelection to the state legislature.
“I was running for the legislature,” Linville replied. “I was not running for mayor.”
Linville said she has received no such contributions in her campaign for the mayor’s race.
Linville’s 2010 campaign contributions have been much debated on Facebook for the past week. Linville’s partisans have attempted to rebut pointed questions from Mayor Dan Pike’s supporters about her 2010 campaign war chest.
It’s perfectly legitimate to follow the money in politics, and if you do it the results are seldom gratifying. But it’s worth pointing out that people who are involved in crafting legislation at the state or federal level get contributions from all sorts of special interest groups with an ongoing interest in legislation. (And no, I’m not arguing that we should just accept this because it’s just the way things are. I personally don’t accept it.)
Out of curiosity, I decided to take a peek at the 2010 campaign contributions to State Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-44th. The Sierra Club describes him as “the Great Green Giant of the Washington Legislature.”
His campaign contribution list for 2010 includes contributions from Puget Sound Energy, tribal casinos, hospitals, optometrists, Walgreens, Waste Management Inc. — as well as $500 from Pacific International Terminals, the SSA Marine subsidiary in charge of the Gateway Pacific Terminal project, and $150 from Craig Cole.
Looking back on yesterday’s lively exchanges in this space on the Bellingham mayor’s race and the Gateway Pacific Terminal issue, one thing strikes me: Partisans of both Mayor Dan Pike and challenger Kelli Linville seem to have convinced themselves that this election contest is a battle between good and evil.
Having gotten to know both candidates to some extent, I would have to say that after the ballots have been counted, Bellingham city government will be headed by an experienced, committed and competent person. Both candidates have their strengths and their foibles. Neither one is likely to bring disaster to Bellingham.
Here’s the video of the City Council meeting of Jan. 10, 2011–Dan Pike’s state of the city address. Start watching at 18:05. This was about two months before Linville announced her candidacy.
Since our robust debate on coal trains and the mayor’s race seems to be in danger of dying down, here’s a new provocation for both sides–a press release from Kelli Linville:
(Begin press release) Bellingham mayoral candidate Kelli Linville has been consistent about her stance on coal from day one. She does not support exporting coal or any other non-renewable natural resource. She does not now nor has she ever supported a coal terminal at Cherry Point.
Her opponent has released a new campaign piece that implies she supports a coal pier.
“Dan Pike’s campaign has paid for and distributed a doorbell piece that has taken my comments about the Gateway Pacific terminal out of context,” Linville said. “I have worked against exporting and burning coal for many years. Misrepresentation of facts does not serve the public, and what my opponent is doing is dividing our community.
“Our next mayor will be faced with an exhaustive number of questions that must be answered so our downtown and waterfront will be redeveloped and jobs created, our drinking water source will be protected and our neighborhoods will retain their character while meeting our affordable housing, growth and safety goals.
“The Gateway Pacific project is a critical issue, and the public needs to stay involved. I will vigorously ensure that we are engaged in the scoping and permitting process from beginning to end to ensure our interests are represented.”
(End Press Release)
As some of you noted in the previous post, Riley Sweeney has a blog entry on Political Junkie that includes a picture of the doorknob literature that Linville is incensed about. Sweeney also offers critical commentary.
Edie Gilliss, political director for Washington Conservation Voters, says anyone is welcome to display one of the group’s “Another Family Voting Against Coal Trains” signs, even if they are supporting Kelli Linville for Bellingham mayor.
Gilliss provided that assurance in an email, after I forwarded the WCV a complaint from Vanessa Blackburn, Linville’s campaign manager.
(The WCV has endorsed incumbent Mayor Dan Pike, partly because of his opposition to SSA Marine’s Gateway Pacific Terminal project that would export coal to China–coal that would travel through Bellingham on trains.)
Here is Blackburn’s emailed complaint, sent to WCV and copied to me:
“I had a Washington Conservation Voters volunteer come to my door this weekend (a very nice person, by the way), and I thanked her for volunteering and for distributing literature for WCV candidates. When I asked if I could have an anti-coal sign, she said volunteers were told they could not put anti-coal signs in yards that have Kelli Linville signs. I was surprised and deeply saddened by this, since Kelli Linville is also anti-coal, this is something I also care about, and this is an issue that will be facing our community long after this current election is over. Although the volunteer said she knew Kelli was anti-coal, this was what all volunteers were told and she was sorry. Over the weekend, I received several emails from Kelli supporters who were told the same thing by WCV and they found this shocking, offensive and angering.
Can you please explain to me why WCV would have a policy that is divisive and alienates many anti-coal supporters in Bellingham instead of one that builds consensus around this critically important issue and includes the entire community?”
The WCV’s Gilliss responded to Blackburn with an emailed apology and an invitation to her and anyone else who wants to display the anti-coal train signs. Blackburn provided me with a copy of that email and her reply to Gilliss:
“Thank you for your prompt response, and yes, I would like to pick up two anti-coal signs: One for myself, and one for Kelli Linville.”
In a separate email dialog with me, Gilliss said:
“Washington Conservation Voters wants EVERY candidate and elected official in Whatcom County to oppose coal exports. I’m not sure how many yard signs we have left to distribute, but I encourage all voters to ask the question, “where do you stand on a new coal dock from Cherry Point?”
to every local candidate.
Our organization is supporting Mayor Dan Pike in the mayor’s race, because he has clearly and unequivocally opposed the coal export terminal. We encourage Kelli Linville to do the same. She hasn’t.”
My followup question to Gilliss:
“This is what Linville wrote in her op-ed on July 13:
“”I do not support exporting coal or any other non-renewable resource.
If the proposed SSA Marine terminal at Cherry Point is proven to be a sole-purpose coal pier then I absolutely oppose it. I support and will continue to work for a multi-purpose terminal that is mitigated for rail impacts through Bellingham and meets stringent environmental standards.
I will vigorously engage in the scoping and permitting process from beginning to end to ensure our interests are represented.”"
What issues do you have with that statement?”
“Broadly speaking, Mayor Pike has been a champion to make sure the community isn’t impacted by toxic coal dust, traffic, and noise from coal trains. He has been a leader in opposing the terminal, working hand in hand with community leaders, other mayors, and public health experts.
We oppose exporting coal through Cherry Point regardless of the other materials that may be exported from that terminal. For us, this is not an argument about percentages—it’s about leadership and unequivocal opposition.”
As reported earlier, Mayor Pike’s unequivocal opposition was not immediate.