Tag: Dan Pike
At the Sept. 29 candidates forum sponsored by the League of Women voters, Mayor Dan Pike made some critical comments about the Port of Bellingham’s progress on environmental cleanup on the waterfront.
In particular, Pike suggested that Port Environmental Director Mike Stoner was somehow responsible for the slow pace of cleanup work.
Pike observed that Stoner assumed his job in 1994.
“I was told by a former port employee that at that time the cleanup was two years out and it’s been two years out ever since,” Pike said.
Pike also suggested that the slow pace of the cleanup was slowing down everything else.
That got a rise out of Charlie Sheldon, the port’s executive director.
After watching the online video of the forum, Sheldon sent an email to Pike and two key city officials, Linda Stewart and David Webster, responding to Pike’s criticism, which begins at 59.01 minutes into the video. Port commissioners also got a copy of the email.
“Mike is held in high regard throughout the state for his knowledge of and work in cleanup projects,” the email said. “Mike has worked tirelessly on gaining funding and on continuing to keep the State Department of Ecology’s regulators focused on approval of our community’s cleanup projects.”
Sheldon’s email also suggested that the pace of progress on the master plan for the waterfront is a factor in holding back the cleanup.
“Ecology tells us again and again that land use decisions must precede cleanup decisions,” Sheldon’s email said. “They need to know how the site will be used in order to define a safe remedy. In the case of the waterfront, the master plan should have been completed years ago. Completion of the master plan is not dependent on cleanup.”
Lucy McInerney, the Department of Ecology environmental engineer who oversees much of the local cleanup work, said the slow pace has little to do with the performance of port or city officials. As she described it, there is simply no quick way to investigate the contamination of a huge industrial site, develop a cleanup strategy, and get the approval of multiple state and federal agencies and tribal governments.
“Each site is like doing a Ph.D dissertation,” McInerney said. “Every site has its own unique set of circumstances.”
Given the complexity of the site–with its mercury-tainted pulp mill and chlorine plant site plus an old city landfill–progress toward cleanup is moving as well as can be expected, McInerney said.
The good news is that actual cleanup work will begin before the end of the year, with millions in port funds and state Model Toxics Control Act money already in place to pay for the work slated to be done between now and mid-2013.
After that, McInerney said, the port and city will need to work together to make the case for additional state cleanup money, which comes from a voter-mandated tax on petroleum and other pollutants entering the state.
I’m working on a followup story on this issue for print and online, to be published in the next few days. It will include followup interviews with both Pike and Sheldon.
Whatcom County labor organizations are far from unanimous on candidate endorsements in city races this season, with divisions showing up most noticeably in the mayor’s race.
Mark Lowry, president of the Northwest Washington Central Labor Council, said that organization has declined to issue an endorsement in the mayor’s race. As Lowry explained it, representatives of the council’s public employee unions have some issues with both incumbent Dan Pike and challenger Kelli Linville, the former 42nd District state representative.
City employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees are “less than enthralled with Mr. Pike,” Lowry said. At the same time, some members of state employee unions have similar issues with Linville based on her role as a key budget-developer in Olympia. Result: no labor council endorsement for either candidate.
Lowry also noted the labor council’s disenchantment with Pike’s position on the Gateway Pacific Terminal project that would ship coal and other bulk cargoes from a new Cherry Point pier proposed by SSA Marine of Seattle. Labor leaders see the project as a welcome source of construction jobs their members desperately need.
At first, Pike seemed to agree. He proposed routing trainloads of coal to the pier site via the South Fork Valley to avoid impacts on Bellingham, but after it became clear that such a route was unlikely, and community opposition to the project was building, Pike took a strong stance against it.
“We believe Mayor Pike threw organized labor under the bus to score some points with environmentalists,” Lowry said.
Speaking of the bus, Lowry also serves as president and business agent for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 843, a 186-member local that represents Whatcom Transportation Authority bus drivers. Local 843 is endorsing Linville.
Lowry said public transit systems here and around Washington are in dire financial straits because their sales tax subsidies have shrunk amid recession. He wants to see a coalition of state and local governments formed to develop new taxation options that local governments can adopt to help pay for transit, and Local 843 leaders believe Linville has the expertise to play a key role in that process.
The labor council and the ATU also parted ways on the Ward 3 City Council race, with the council endorsing Barry Buchanan while Local 843 endorses challenger Cathy Lehman.
“Barry Buchanan has been there for us for four years,” Lowry said. “He has never backed away from us. Barry has always stood with us and we couldn’t see not standing with him.”
But from a strictly ATU perspective, Lehman got the edge, Lowry said. He described her as very engaged in mass transit issues, and committed to a robust transit system even before her candidacy, as head of the local office of Futurewise.
Mayor Dan Pike has named James King of Alaska as the new city parks director. King formerly served as director of state parks for the state of Alaska.
Here are some background links on King. This one is a news report from the Juneau Empire announcing King’s 2007 appointment to his Alaska job. This one is a blog post that offers a letter from the Alaska Trails organization asking Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell to keep King in his state position, citing a long list of his accomplishments. Here is a link to an Alaska Trails newsletter explaining the circumstances of King’s departure.
And here is the press release from City Hall announcing King’s appointment to the $106,500-a-year position:
Bellingham — Mayor Dan Pike announced today (Monday, Oct. 3, 2011) that James King, a local government community development director and former parks director for the State of Alaska, has accepted the position of director of the Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department.
Pike said he chose King from among several well-qualified candidates because of his extensive executive leadership experience, his ability to drive innovations and gain efficiencies, and his authentic passion for the role parks and recreation plays in the life of a community.
“He has been successful during boom and bust times, bringing people together, listening to their needs and interests, and finding creative ways to fund improvements and solve problems,” Pike said. “He has a genuine love of the outdoors, and, as the father of four, a deep commitment to creating legacies for future generations.”
King currently serves as the Community Development Director for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, a community of 80,000, where he is responsible for land management, an ice arena, two swimming pools, 2,000 miles of trails and parks, five libraries and 60 employees.
In his four years with the State of Alaska, King was responsible for the oversight of 122 parks, 134 employees, and a $16 million capital and operating budget. King said under his direction, for the first time ever, the department reduced a $65 million backlog of deferred park and trail maintenance, working with community members around the state to make badly needed improvements to worn out facilities.
He also served for 10 years as executive director of Trail Mix, Inc., a Juneau-based non-profit that serves to coordinate trail planning, funding and improvements on more than 200 miles of trails managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Alaska State Parks and the City and Borough of Juneau.
“I have a great understanding of the importance of safe, clean, well-maintained recreational facilities, and their importance to the physical, mental and economic health of a community,” King said.
“Bellingham ’s commitment to create world-class parks and greenways is exciting and inspiring. I saw it and felt it everywhere, throughout my interactions with community members, City employees and City leaders, and I look forward to becoming part of it.”
King is a life-long volunteer, outdoor enthusiast and parks and trails user. He and his wife Chris have four children. He said he is excited to join such a professional and enthusiastic team of employees and volunteers, who are so committed to continuing the development of one of the best parks and greenways system in the world.
King holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation Resource Management from the University of Montana (1994) and a Master of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from North Carolina State University (1997).
He will begin employment with the City of Bellingham on Nov. 1, 2011, at a salary of $106,500 per year.
Mayor Dan Pike continues to stress his opposition to the Gateway Pacific coal and bulk cargo terminal at Cherry Point as the four-way race to the Tuesday, Aug. 16 primary election continues.
He issued a press release today in solidarity with Whatcom Docs, a group of about 160 local doctors who contend that the added train traffic through the city would pose significant health risks, and they want those risks evaluated as the proposed terminal gets regulatory scrutiny.
Pike’s rivals for the mayor’s job have staked out a variety of positions. Kelli Linville says she opposes a coal terminal, but she has criticized Pike’s tactics, which she contends have made it harder for the city to make its case to regulatory agencies who will actually decide the project’s fate. The city has no direct role in the permitting process.
Clayton Petree said he would prefer to see the Gateway Pacific site used as a container port, and that option should be evaluated as part of the regulatory process. Steve Moore endorses Gateway Pacific.
Here is Pike’s press release:
BELLINGHAM, WA — AUGUST 10, 2011 – Mayor Dan Pike today made the following statement regarding an announcement by Whatcom County physicians group “Whatcom Docs.”
“Today, a group of 160 prominent physicians in Whatcom County released a large volume of research outlining the need to evaluate the health impacts of the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point. The science is clear, the facts are indisputable and have been well documented in other communities with rail-served coal terminals like the one proposed for our community. These communities have seen increased rates of disease and death directly resulting from the presence of coal trains.
“In early June, I expressed my strong opposition to this coal terminal and my commitment to protect the citizens of Bellingham from its detrimental impacts, and then I followed up that position with proactive leadership: outreach to the Department of Ecology and building consensus with the mayors of affected communities across this state. The physicians associated with this study all share these concerns. There simply is too much data available about the harmful effects of coal-related airborne pollutants for us to allow this project to move forward.
“I urge everyone in Whatcom County to learn as much as they can about the health impacts of this project. I’m confident that they’ll come to the same conclusion as I and these doctors have: Coal does not belong in our community. It is unhealthy, it is dirty, and it is dangerous. We can do better than this. I will continue to oppose projects like this that pose an unacceptable risk to our communities’ physical and economic health. Please stand with me to protect Bellingham by opposing this coal terminal.”
(End press release)
The Bellingham City Council’s waterfront committee has scheduled a 90-minute session Tuesday , Aug. 9 to review the waterfront planning and development regulations now being hammered out by city and Port of Bellingham staffers. The meeting will be in the Mayor’s board room at 11 a.m.
I apologize for my original post announcing the date of this meeting as today. City Council always meets on Mondays, except when it meets on some other day.
Mayor Dan Pike and Port Executive Director Charlie Sheldon have said that major disagreements have been resolved and a draft set of plans should be ready for public review this fall.
Also on todayTuesday’s committee agenda is an overview of millions of dollars in new street connections to the water that are a prerequisite for meaningful redevelopment. At this point, nobody is sure where those millions will be found.
I’ll have an update here after the meeting, and a report for Wednesday’s tomorrow‘s print and online editions.
Some type of organization that is backing the Gateway Pacific Terminal project appears to be trying to recruit grassroots supporters by telephone.
Two local notables–Tim Douglas, former mayor, and Lisa McShane–contacted me today to express their concerns about the effort. They reported getting a phone call that started out sounding like an opinion poll on SSA Marine’s project, which would ship coal and other cargoes from a new pier proposed at the site near the end of Gulf Road, south of the BP Cherry Point refinery.
As they tell it, the purpose of the poll seemed to be to sound out the recipient on his or her willingness to lobby elected officials and attend rallies in support of Gateway Pacific. They both report that the effort seems to be targeting local Democrats, although they acknowledged they had no way of knowing if other people were also being targeted.
McShane said everyone on the Democratic Party’s list-serv seemed to have gotten the call.
Douglas is backing Dan Pike’s reelection bid in the mayor’s race, while McShane has endorsed Kelli Linville.
“It seems like it was from project supporters,” McShane said in an email. “It was stated as a poll but wasn’t. It seems to be an organizing tool. It strikes me as unethical to tell someone they’re answering a poll but then use that information collected for organizing.”
I emailed SSA spokesman Gary Smith for a comment.
“I’m afraid I don’t have any information I can share on this,” he replied in an email.
The Whatcom County Association of Realtors is backing Kelli Linville in the Bellingham mayor’s race, citing her record as a state representative.
“Kelli’s record of representation for over two decades means she is uniquely familiar with the issues and concerns of our community,” the Realtors said in a press release. “Her demonstrated ability to work with multiple interest groups and facilitate agreement between opposing views is the type of leadership we need to explore and resolve the economic and environmental opportunities that confront our community today.”
That endorsement doesn’t mean all real estate people have shunned incumbent Mayor Dan Pike. He has reported campaign contributions from downtown real estate developer (and Herald landlord) Bob Hall, and Ken Hertz, the former mayor who serves on Pike’s Public Development Authority.
The other two candidates in the race both have direct ties to the real estate industry: commercial real estate broker Steve Moore and consultant Clayton Petree. But that wasn’t enough to get them the Realtors’ seal of approval.
The 550-member group also endorses Larry Farr in the Ward 3 City Council race against Cathy Lehman and incumbent Barry Buchanan. who is seeking the at-large seat now held by Seth Fleetwood.
Mayor Dan Pike has picked up another environmental group’s endorsement in his reelection battle: the Sierra Club.
In a press release, Pike attributed the endorsement to his stand against SSA Marine’s plan for a cargo terminal at Cherry Point– a terminal that would likely draw trainloads of coal through the city on their way to vessels bound for China.
“I will do everything in my power to protect Bellingham,” Pike said. “If this project isn’t right for Bellingham—and I believe it is not—I will keep leading the charge, and we will win. I was the first elected leader and the first candidate to come out against this project, and I continue to be the candidate who is actually fighting for us. Stopping this coal port is more important to me than being re-elected.”
Pike’s opponents have varying views.
Kelli Linville says she opposes coal exports and the use of coal to generate power, but she says the city should wait for environmental review of the SSA proposal before coming out in opposition.
Clayton Petree has said that SSA should change its plans and build a container port that would have more economic benefits and fewer environmental problems.
Steve Moore backs SSA’s project.
In other news from the Pike campaign, the mayor and his campaign staff report collecting over $3,000 in contributions during their July 4 rooftop party at the Herald Building.
Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike outpolled challenger Kelli Linville at the Thursday, June 16 endorsement meeting of more than 200 Whatcom County Democrats, but he fell just short of the two-thirds vote he needed for an official endorsement.
Ditto David Stalheim, former county planning director, who hopes to succeed Pete Kremen as Whatcom County Executive.
In the mayor’s race, Pike got about 64 percent of the ballots cast, with 49 percent for Linville and nine percent endorsing no one. (The totals add up to more than 100 because party members are permitted to endorse more than one candidate.)
In the executive race, Stalheim got 63 percent, (click here to read about his Hatch Act complications) with 46 percent endorsing Tom Anderson, former general manager of Whatcom County PUD. Two party members–a little less than one percent– endorsed State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, who surprised the gathering by asking for Dems’ endorsement and actually showing up to speak.
UPDATE: A Friday, June 17 recount did not change these results.
The other candidates in the two races–Clayton Petree and Steve Moore for mayor, and Jack Louws for County Executive–did not seek the Dems’ endorsement and were not on the ballot.
The night’s big winner was Cathy Lehman, who got an endorsement with 78 percent of votes cast. Incumbent Barry Buchanan, the party’s former county chairman, managed just 33 percent.
J. Lynne Walker also earned an endorsement with 79 percent in her campaign to succeed Shirley Forslof as Whatcom County Auditor. But her rival, Debbie Adelstein, announced via former Bellingham Mayor Tim Douglas that she would not seek or accept the Democratic endorsement because she already works in the Auditor’s office, which has the task of counting ballots in the primary and general elections. Adelstein’s name was not on the party ballot, but she got five write-in votes.
Sheriff Bill Elfo got approval on 62 percent of ballots, with 50 percent for his challenger, sheriff’s detective Steve Harris. The third candidate in the race, Bob Taylor, did not seek endorsement.
Party Chairwoman Natalie McClendon said the party doesn’t give money to candidates it endorses, but they do send out mailings and provide political people power to mobilize Demo-leaning voters.
State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, showed up tonight at the Whatcom County Democrats endorsement meeting, making a pitch for a less-than-likely Democratic endorsement of his candidacy for the nonpartisan Whatcom County Executive post.
“He’s a Republican. What’s he doing here?” somebody shouted from the back of Norway Hall, where about 300 Democrats had gathered to hear candidates who sought their seal of approval.
“I have to admit I haven’t been to a Democratic meeting in awhile,” a grinning Ericksen said.
Then he tried to find some common ground, saying he shares party members’ interest in preserving farmland, and he hopes to help with that by making sure farmers have rights to the water they need.
He also said he would work to keep the Medic 1 city-county EMS system together, and wants to work with SSA Marine as that company attempts to build a shipping terminal for coal and other bulk cargoes at Cherry Point.
“That does not mean a blank check,” he said.
He drew soft, polite applause and a couple of hisses as he left the stage.
Tom Anderson, another candidate seeking to replace the departing Pete Kremen as executive, stressed his administrative experience as former general manager of Whatcom County PUD.
The party endorsement ballots contained only the names of those candidates who asked to be considered for that endorsement.
Former Lynden Mayor Jack Louws did not seek it, while David Stalheim, former Whatcom County Planning Director, now holds a city job administering federal grant money and apparently is barred from seeking a partisan endorsement by the federal Hatch Act. That kept his name off the Dems’ endorsement ballot too.
But before the endorsement process began, former County Council member Dan McShane rose to make a motion to suspend the endorsement rules to allow party members to write Stalheim’s name in on their ballots. Chairwoman Natalie McClendon said the motion would require a two-thirds approval, but it carried easily, with only a handful of people opposed on a show of hands.
Later in the meeting, both Mayor Dan Pike and Kelli Linville seemed to get a warm reception from the Democrats, and some observers said they thought the party members might vote to endorse both, which is permissible under party rules. The party’s endorsement requires a two-thirds approval vote from those at the meeting.
As of 10 p.m. the ballot-counting did not appear to be close to a conclusion. I’ll post the results Friday morning.
Bellingham mayoral candidate Clayton Petree has issued a press release saying the city should refocus its spending on essential services such as law enforcement. In a followup email, he called attention to the latest gruesome state revenue forecast, as featured on the Business Blog.
If that forecast is correct, the state’s $738 million budget reserve will be mostly depleted over the next two years, setting the stage for even more cuts to education and other critical state government functions.
Petree noted that the city has been spending down its own reserves while to some extent counting on an improved economy to boost revenue and get the city’s finances back on a sustainable long-term path. He thinks the latest state forecast calls that approach into question.
It’s worth noting that some of the city projects Petree is targeting have partial funding sources that could not be shifted into city programs such as the police department. The Central Avenue waterfront project, for example, would rely on street fund revenues provided by gasoline taxes, while state environmental cleanup money would cover some of the cost of the waterfront toxic site he mentions.
But Petree is correct in asserting that waterfront cleanup and redevelopment comes with hefty city costs for cleanup, streets and utilities, and city officials freely admit they have no sources of money in hand for those projects. This means the pace of process on these things may be slow.
Here is Petree’s press release:
“Referring to recently announced City of Bellingham plans and task force reports Clayton Petree,
a candidate for mayor, called on current Mayor Dan Pike to immediately begin to work with the
Bellingham City Council to reprioritize the City of Bellingham’s spending approaches.
“It appears we are simultaneously going out to bid on a multi-million dollar bridge to nowhere
even as we fail to plan for identified needs to maintain adequate public safety for the citizens of
our city,” Petree comments. “That is fiscally irresponsible and we cannot wait for an election
and a new mayoral term to begin to work on the issue.”
“According to Petree the mayor has proudly announced in recent weeks the bid process would
begin soon on building roads and bridges to Bellingham’s waterfront even as a task force report
presented to the Mayor and the City Council in February pointed to a lagging level of public
safety. “It is inappropriate to begin building additional roads to a waterfront that has no
adopted plan and a 50 year time line for build out at the same time we are ignoring an
identified need for adequate police officers. Why are we already beginning to subsidize the
waterfront “want” that isn’t projected to be complete until 2061 and ignoring the identified
police force “need” that should exist today? That makes no sense at all.”
“Petree says the two examples he points to are only the tip of the iceberg floating across the City
of Bellingham’s financial horizon. “City Finance Director Jon Carter recently presented a pretty
gloomy set of financial forecast scenarios to the Bellingham City Council. Our current practice
of deficit spending will take us below the safety threshold or completely exhaust our reserves
within a few short years. Even as we are floating in a sea of red ink, the city is spending many
thousands of dollars, fighting with the county over frivolous issues. We’ve bailed out the
owners of a contaminated waste site by agreeing to accept clean up responsibilities that put
the city ‘on the hook’ for at least $2.74 million in unfunded, already identified costs and at the
same time, the citizens are told we can’t afford seven hundred thousand dollars a year to fund
our identified need for a new police unit? What kind of approach to budgeting is that?”
“We must begin, as a city, to spend within our means,” Petree concludes. “All we have to do is
look at our unsustainable, failed State budget to see what happens when we spend on wants
instead of needs. The time to work on this issue is right now. We can’t be playing election
games as we run the ship of Bellingham aground.”
End press release
Commercial real estate broker Steve Moore issued a press release Thursday, June 16,saying he has rebuffed suggestions that he drop out of the Bellingham mayor’s race.
Moore’s press release says those suggestions came from Kelli Linville supporters.
Linville, a former state representative, is campaigning to unseat incumbent Dan Pike. So is Clayton Petree, business consultant and free lance writer.
Linville replied that while she did hold a recent meeting with Moore, that meeting was at the request of Moore and his supporters. She said she never asked Moore to get out of the race, and she never asked anyone else to convey that message to him. But she acknowledged telling Moore that she didn’t think it likely that he would be elected mayor, and that his candidacy probably benefitted Pike.
“I asked him if he supported Dan, and if he didn’t, what was his goal in getting into the race?” Linville said. “He thinks he’s going to win. He thinks he and Dan are going to be in the general (election) and he’s going to win.”
Linville said even if Moore does run well among moderate and pro-business voters, she thinks she will probably be one of the top two vote-getters in the August primary, and will be in a strong position to win in November.
Moore agreed that Linville never asked him to drop out. He also expressed confidence in his own electability.
“I do believe that I can win and become the mayor of Bellingham,” Moore said. “I do believe I would be a very good mayor.”
Here is Moore’s press release:
“Despite calls by Kelli Linville supporters to withdraw from the race for Bellingham Mayor, candidate Steve Moore says he is in it to win.
“Over the last several days, people very close to the Linville campaign have told Moore that he should halt his campaign to ensure that Linville survives the primary election. The deadline for a candidate to withdraw is today.
“I have had meetings with several people who laid out the reasons why they want me out,” Moore said. “They suggested that Linville must have the backing of moderates and those who lean conservative. Because of my business background they are concerned that those people will vote for me instead of her.”
“On Tuesday, Moore met with Linville for an hour-long discussion of the campaign.
“My answer to those who want me to withdraw to help Kelli is that they should support me instead,” Moore said. “Unlike some other candidates, I take clear, unequivocal positions on important issues. People know exactly where I stand on the Red Light Camera issue, the Cherry Point shipping terminal, support of local employers and the waterfront redevelopment project.”
“Moore is against Red Light Cameras. He is in favor of the Cherry Point shipping terminal. Moore pledges that City Hall will have clear, consistently applied rules to help employers thrive and create more jobs. He says it is time to finally take action on the GP Waterfront Project instead of having more endless debates and studies.
“Moore, 63, is well known in the community and has been involved in issues behind the scenes for many years. He is a longtime business owner and has been involved in local conservation, boating and business groups for many years, including serving as the Chairman of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce in 2008.”
End press release
Erroneous. Malicious. Ignorant. Those are three adjectives that Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Randall Watts used today (June 15) in a letter to Gov. Chris Gregoire, responding to an earlier letter to the governor from Mayor Dan Pike. And that was just in the first couple of paragraphs.
Pike had asked the governor to intervene in the review of SSA Marine’s Gateway Pacific Terminal project, a deep-water shipping facility that would ship coal and other cargoes to Asia via a pier at Cherry Point.
As of now, Whatcom County is the lead agency for the review of SSA Marine’s permit applications, and the lengthy environmental impact study process that has yet to get under way in earnest. Pike asked the governor to order state agencies to take over the lead agency status.
Watts’ letter says the county has already asked the Washington Department of Ecology to join the county as a co-lead agency.
“Though Mr. Pike’s letter appears to be in agreement, we feel we need to respond to his erroneous and malicious statements,” Watts’ letter says, asserting that there is no legal authority for a state agency to step in and take over lead agency status from the county without county consent.
Pike also asked the governor to include the city on the “Multi-Agency Permitting Team” of state, federal and county agencies with jurisdiction over the Gateway Pacific project. Watts argued this would be wrong, since the team agencies are supposed to conduct an unbiased review of the project and Pike has already taken a strong stand against it.
Watts also challenged Pike’s assertion that the county appears unwilling to consider the impact that increased rail traffic to a new cargo terminal would have on the Bellingham waterfront. Watts contended that in April 2011, county staff had already assured Pike that those impacts will be part of the study process.
Despite the hot language, the letter seems to indicate that the county, too, would be receptive to a total state takeover of lead agency status.
“Setting aside Mayor Pike’s erroneous statements, political grandstanding and blatant disrespect for Whatcom County staff, we wish to continue our discussion regarding the State Department of Ecology to be in part or in whole the lead agency for the EIS,” the letter says. “We are hoping the Department of Ecology will agree with Whatcom County to be co-lead or lead for the EIS (environmental impact statement) soon.”
In a letter to Gov. Chris Gregoire, Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike says the state, not the county, should be the lead agency in the State Environmental Policy Act review of the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal and bulk cargo pier proposed for Cherry Point by SSA Marine of Seattle.
Pike posted the letter on the city website moments ago. An excerpt:
“I request that you direct your department heads and encourage the Department of Natural Resources to assert lead agency status, to ensure this proposal gets full and transparent review of all significant impacts.”
Among other things, Pike’s letter to the governor expresses concern that Whatcom County planners will accept SSA Marine’s contention that it needs a mere modification of its 1997 shoreline permit for the project, which potentially means that the environmental scrutiny of shoreline issues would be conducted under less stringent rules in effect in 1992, when SSA originally applied for the 1997 permit.
“My team is concerned that the SEPA review will not include the best available science required by the County’s more modern Shoreline Management Master Program, adopted by the Department of Ecology in 2008,” Pike’s letter says.
In a brief telephone interview, Pike said he doesn’t know how the county will react, but he suggested they might welcome the handoff of lead agency status to state agencies.
“It lets the county off the hook from having to be in the crosshairs on this,” Pike said.
As of now, I’m still waiting to hear from the Whatcom County Planning Department on this.
UPDATE: Here’s a link to the relevant state law on revisions of shoreline permits.
Steve Moore, a Bellingham commercial real estate broker, is the fourth candidate in the Bellingham mayor’s race. He filed his candidacy this morning, joining incumbent Dan Pike, former state representative Kelli Linville, and consultant Clayton Petree in what promises to be a lively primary election battle.
Moore, head of Moore and Co. commercial real estate, received the 2010 “Most Valuable Political Player Award” from the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County.