Tag: Rick Larsen
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, has staked out a position on the debt reduction plans now being thrashed out by the bipartisan “supercommittee.” Larsen says he agrees that the nation would benefit from a big deficit cut, but he fears that Republican proposals would harm Medicare and Social Security and the people who rely on them, while making it harder for the US to invest in the future.
Larsen sent out a press release outlining his position after he voted against a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. That amendment was defeated in the House. Here’s CNN’s report.
Here is Larsen’s press release:
WASHINGTON—Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today voted against a Republican balanced budget amendment that could require steep cuts to Medicare and Social Security.
“I voted against the amendment because it would balance the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens,” Larsen said. “I am a strong supporter of restoring fiscal discipline through responsible means. I recently sent a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction calling on them to ‘go big’ by presenting a bold plan that would reduce the deficit by $4 trillion. (Stark note: Larsen is one of 100 members of Congress from both parties who signed this letter.)
“The latest proposal to amend the Constitution that Republicans put to a vote today would have disproportionately targeted Medicare and Social Security, while allowing corporations and the highest earners to benefit from massive tax cuts. It would have also barred the federal government from taking on debt to invest in the future of our economy—from infrastructure improvement, to clean energy to education. Without this sort of investment, our economy will not be able to grow and provide the jobs that Americans need.
“Former Washington Governor Daniel Evans recently called the balanced budget amendment ‘an impractical idea’ for which the consequences ‘could be disastrous.’ (Links to Evans’ op-ed piece in Seattle Times.)
“Independent analysts argue that the balanced budget requirement, if applied to the current fiscal year, would require cuts totaling $1.5 trillion, resulting in the loss of 15 million jobs. That would double the unemployment rate from 9 to 18 percent.
“The path to real deficit reduction and a balanced budget requires sacrifices from all Americans. From reducing spending, like cutting agriculture subsidies and accelerating the drawdown in Afghanistan, to increasing revenue by closing tax loopholes for massively profitable companies and restoring tax rates on the highest earners, we can achieve our aims through shared sacrifice and bipartisan compromise.
“While some in Washington, D.C. want to slash entitlement spending, we must protect the benefits that our seniors have earned. Medicare must remain a guaranteed benefit and not converted to a voucher system. Social Security’s long-term solvency can be ensured if we lift the cap on earnings subject to the Social Security tax.”
“We can achieve major deficit reduction without shredding the social safety net, but we will only do so if we set partisan gimmicks like this balanced budget amendment aside and work together on these sensible solutions.”
End Rick Larsen press release
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has introduced a bill that he says would make it easier for U.S. farmers to bring immigrant workers into the country on temporary visas.
Among other things, his bill would transfer the agricultural labor permitting system to the Agriculture Department, away from the Labor Department.
According to this report from McClatchy, the bill would cover dairies as well as other farms, which apparently has not been the case under previous temporary worker plans. But some in agriculture say Smith’s proposal doesn’t go far enough.
On Aug. 29, 2011, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, was in Whatcom County meeting with local farmers. Afterwards, Larsen said he would oppose legislation that would force farmers to use E-Verify, a computerized federal system that checks validity of a worker’s identity documents, unless a way could be found to enable farmer to get access to legal labor to harvest their crops.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, Democratic congressman representing the district that includes Whatcom County, has issued a press release saying he voted for the debt ceiling compromise because it averts a federal debt default and mostly protects Medicare and Medicaid.
“Now we need to start creating jobs,” Larsen said. “We must protect investments like college loans, research and development and other efforts that will help America maintain a cutting edge economy. These investments will help America stay ahead of the competition and set the foundation for future economic growth.”
He also observes that the federal government will eventually need to raise more revenue if national leaders are serious about balancing the budget.
Here is the full text from Larsen:
“Today I voted to avert a default crisis. The impact of default on the low-income, middle class, and seniors would have been far worse than any of the cuts that are found in this bill.
“The people I represent asked me to protect Social Security and assistance programs for the poor, and this bill does that. This package totally protects Social Security, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, food stamps and other critical programs from the draconian cuts some members of Congress wanted to see.
“The package largely takes changes to Medicare off the table. It protects Medicare from becoming a voucher system – a serious threat that would have ended the guaranteed benefit and program as we know it. But providers could take an overall two percent cut in reimbursement.
“Compromise is never perfect.
“I am disappointed that revenue is not a part of the final package. A truly balanced approach to balancing the budget over the next ten years requires revenue.
“On the other hand, the package does not exclude revenue in the future, and the President still retains veto authority over extension of the Bush-era tax cut for the top income earners.
“This bill forms a bi-partisan congressional committee to identify a minimum of $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next ten years. The committee must provide recommendations to both chambers of Congress for a clean, up-or-down vote.
“If the committee fails in its task, a trigger that is more like a hammer, will result in $1.2 trillion in across the board cuts. Half of these cuts will come from domestic programs and half from defense and security spending. That is a clear incentive for the committee to reach a compromise.
“Now we need to start creating jobs. We must protect investments like college loans, research and development and other efforts that will help America maintain a cutting edge economy. These investments will help America stay ahead of the competition and set the foundation for future economic growth.”
End press release
After weeks of excruciating, sometimes nauseating political maneuvering over the debt ceiling, a deal has been struck. Or has it? According to this story in the Washington Post, GOP Presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney has come out in opposition to the deal, a top Tea Party official has denounced it, and Michelle Bachman says she will vote no.
(As of 10 a.m. PDT, I see no comment yet from our own delegation, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen and Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.)
But amid all the commentary about who scored a political victory and who suffered a political defeat– written by D.C. reporters who cover national government as though it were a sporting event–it’s pretty hard to sort out how this deal will impact our economy and the people who depend on it.
Who could defend a government that depends on ever-increasing levels of debt to finance its operations? That approach, on a household level, caused the Great Recession we’re still trying to survive. It would, in the not t00 distant future, lead to a disaster in government financing as well.
But the relatively sharp cuts in government spending that are now in the works may have some awfully unpleasant side effects too. People who think this deal will help revive the economy may be in for a shock. As of this moment the Dow Jones is down another 100 points.
John Koster, a Snohomish County Republican who came pretty close to unseating Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen in the last election, is already on the campaign trail for 2012, and he’s attacking Larsen over the prosecution of Whatcom County resident Wayne Groen.
Here’s a link to Koster’s press release on the topic.
Groen runs a manure-hauling business and is well-known in rural Whatcom County. In April 2011, he was convicted of a felony charge in U.S. District Court in Seattle based on his actions in shining a bright light on a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter hovering near his home in September 2010.
Groen’s prosecution brought discontent in the north county to a head, and there have been several community meetings and symbolic chaining up of farm roads because of unhappiness about the behavior of federal law enforcement offiicers in vehicles and aircraft.
Koster says he has brought the matter to the attention of Republican members of the state Congressional delegation.
Some questions for discussion:
- Should members of Congress intervene in federal prosecutions?
- Koster seems to be an advocate of strong enforcement of border security and existing immigration laws, and a strong opponent of anything that smacks of amnesty for immigration law violators. Can we expect federal officers to police our border around the clock and round up illegals with minimal disruption to life along the border?
- Is it possible to be wary of federal power but supportive of rigid enforcement of immigration laws at the same time?
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, has offered an explanation for his votes on tax, war and stimulus measures that got him identified by the Washington Post as one of just nine House members who voted for deficit-expanding legislation in all three categories. We had a blog post on this matter Tuesday, June 15.
In an email, Larsen spokeswoman Emily Halnon said the Post’s characterization of Larsen’s votes is a bit simplistic. While Larsen did vote for the Bush tax cuts in 2001, he voted against extending those cuts. Halnon also says Larsen is part of a bipartisan effort to move the federal government to sustainable spending levels. Here is the full text of her email:
“While Rick did vote for the 2001 tax cuts, he has voted against extending the Bush tax cuts several times since. He firmly believes that Congress needs to end tax cuts for the top two percent of income-earners to help to tackle our debt and deficit crisis.
“A majority of economists agree that the Recovery Act saved our economy from catastrophe and helped to reduce unemployment across the country. A majority of tea partiers don’t. Rick is committed to implementing a forward thinking plan that protects our economic progress and helps bolster private sector job growth while working to shrink the deficit and control the debt.
“Rick knows you cannot have credibility on reducing the deficit and controlling the debt unless the economy is growing and has consistently pushed that it is urgent for Congress must take a balanced approach to balancing the budget, shrinking the deficit and controlling the debt. No ideology is going to fix this problem.
“This year Rick has voted with Republicans and Democrats to cut nearly $50 billion from the President’s 2011 budget and will be part of the solution to develop a balanced approach to cuts and revenue to move the long term budget to sustainability, the standard that people expect.
“He also believes that all new federal spending or tax cuts need to have a source of funding identified to pay for them. He backs a three-year spending freeze on all general non-defense spending in the budget, supports repealing $6 billion in ethanol subsidies and believes Congress needs to restore fiscal responsibility and accountability to the defense procurement process.”
On my daily cruise through the Washington Post front page, I saw an interactive graphic decorated with four mug shots: Michelle Bachman, Paul Ryan, Ron Paul, and Rick Larsen.
That certainly got my attention. What does Larsen have in common with those three worthies? That’s easy: They are all vertebrates who walk upright.
When you explore the graphic and the information it contains, you learn that Larsen is apparently one of just nine Congress members who voted for three big factors in the federal deficit: war measures, economic stimulus, and tax cuts. (The graphic erroneously links Larsen to the group who voted for stimulus but against tax cuts and war, perhaps confusing him with John LarsOn of Connecticut. But when you click on the actual lists, our LarsEn is among the elite nine.)
I have emailed Larsen’s office to clarify and verify the info in this graphic.
By contrast, Paul voted for the tax cuts but against war and stimulus. Bachman voted for war but against stimulus, and was not in office when the key tax-cutting votes were taken during the Bush administration. (I’m guessing she might have voted yes…) Ryan voted for war and tax cuts but against stimulus.
As gasoline prices continue to sop up your disposable income and mine, some of our nation’s leaders are focusing on speculators and price manipulators. Deja vu all over again: Every time gasoline prices spike, investigations are launched.
Personally, I’ve always wondered why we should expect the people who own the gasoline to sell it to us at a price we find acceptable. If they charge $4 a gallon and we pay it, why should we expect them to charge less? When you sell something, do you set the price as low as possible, out of tender concern for the purchaser?
Maybe I’m missing something.
Let’s hear from our congressman, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, who released a statement on the the announcement that the Department of Justice has established the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group. In his statement, he notes that he voted in favor of a similar investigation the last time gas prices hit these levels. (How did that investigation turn out? I’m asking Larsen’s office to report back. Watch for an update.)
UPDATE–from Larsen spokeswoman Emily Halnon. She reports that Larsen twice voted in favor of price relief legislation that passed the House but never cleared the Senate:
“H.R. 6074, the Gas Price Relief for Consumers Act of 2008. It passed the House on May 20, 2008, by a vote of 324-84, was sent to the Senate but was never taken up for a vote before the 110th Congress ended.
Additionally, he voted in favor of H.R. 1252, the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act, which passed the House May 23, 2007 by a vote of 284-141. Again, the Senate did not take up the bill.”
Here is Larsen’s earlier emailed comment. Among other things, he observes that the U.S. needs “long-term investments and policy changes” to get off the gasoline price roller coaster:
“Last week the President’s announced the formation of an Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group. This group must take a hard look at the manipulation of gas prices – determining where and when any fraud of prices took place. We must make sure that every effort is being taken to identify and halt speculation.
“All across Washington, families and small businesses are once again struggling to meet the demanding budget strain caused by skyrocketing gas prices. When gas prices hit record highs three years ago, I voted in favor of the creation of a task force similar to the one now being formed. I expect this group to present a complete picture to the President and hope any findings of manipulation will be swiftly addressed by the Administration and by Congress.
“There is no simple fix or solution for rising gas prices. We must crack down on speculators, but ultimately long-term investments and policy changes are the only way to stabilize our energy future. I will continue to listen and work with my constituents to address their needs. This situation affects all of us and we must take the necessary steps to end the cycle.”
On August 21st, the President and Attorney General Eric Holder announced the formation of the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group. In his memo outlining the group (http://www.justice.gov/ag/AG_Memo_to_FFETF-Gas_Prices.pdf) Mr. Holder called for the exploration of “whether there is any evidence of manipulation of oil and gas prices, collusion, fraud or misinterpretations at the retail or wholesale levels that would violate state or federal laws and that has harmed consumers…” and the evaluation of “the role of speculators and index traders in oil futures markets.”
The Energy Information Administration reports that the average price of unleaded regular fuel in Washington last week was $3.94 per gallon, 88 cents higher than it was one year ago and ten cents higher than the national average.
A public relations consultant for Lummi Nation has provided us with a copy of a letter from the chairmen of four other Northwest tribes to U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, as well as U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, concerning the drawn-out negotiations over a new lease for the county’s ferry to Lummi Island.
“As a federally recognized Indian tribe, the Lummi Nation has jurisdiction and the right to govern its own lands,” the letter says. “In giving Whatcom County a deadline for resolving safety issues on reservation roads and waters that result from the operation of the county’s Lummi Island ferry, the Lummi Nation was acting within its sovereign right.”
The letter notes that islanders and their backers have mounted a letter writing campaign to the congressional delegation asking them to intervene in the matter, and asks the senators and congressman to be wary.
“In our view, any federal intervention that seeks to force the Lummi Nation to use its land or resources in a manner without their consent would be a breach of the federal trust responsibilities and existing federal law,” the letter says.
A few years ago, Whatcom County officials had expected to extend their lease of the ferry dock on the Lummi reservation by exercising a 25-year renewal option, enforceable by binding arbitration to determine renewal terms.
But although tribal officials signed a 1988 document that contained the renewal option, tribal officials contend that the lease is not binding because it was never approved by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, and county officials are not challenging that contention.
The signers of the letter include Nooksack Indian Tribe Chairman Bob Kelly, a former Whatcom County Council member; Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Chairman Brian Cladoosby; Tulalip Tribes Chairman Mel Sheldon; and Stillaguamish Tribe Chairman Shawn Yanity.
The county and the approximately 900 island residents face an April 10 deadline for resolution of the matter. More negotiations are scheduled for April 6.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen’s office has issued this press release, plus a transcript of his statement before a House subcommittee, concerning the need to do more to combat piracy on the high seas.
Here it is:
Today, U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (D-Everett), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, co-led a hearing to examine the United States response to piracy. Last month, four Americans, including a couple from Seattle, were killed by Somali captors while on vacation.
“Today’s pirate is no Jack Sparrow,” said Rep. Larsen. “The statistics are startling. The New York Times reported in late February that more than 50 vessels were currently captive ranging from Thai fishing trawlers to European supertankers, with more than 800 hostages. These 800 hostages represent mariners and seafarers that are only doing their jobs. It is time for the international community to stop this injustice.”
“U.S. and international efforts to combat piracy have resulted in a mixed bag of success. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), prosecution of alleged pirates remains logistically difficult, the pirates have greatly expanded their area of attacks, there has been a steady increase in the number of attacks, and there are more ransoms being paid at increasing rates. This rise of piracy in the region puts mariners in danger and is a disruptive threat to world shipping,” Rep. Larsen concluded.
The full text of Rep. Larsen’s Opening Statement Follows:
Rep. Rick Larsen
Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
“Assuring the Freedom of Americans on the High Seas:
The United States Response to Piracy”
March 15, 2011
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for calling today’s hearing. Piracy, particularly off the Somalia coast, is a disruptive threat to world shipping.
Tragically, just last month, piracy also became deadly for Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, California, and their friends, Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle of Seattle, Washington. I extend my sympathies to their families.
These four individuals posed a threat to no one. They were not mariners involved in international trade. The Adams were living their life-long dream. Ms. Macay and Mr. Riggle were friends joining in the adventure.
While the circumstances of their deaths are still being investigated, we do know that they were killed by their Somali captors while their release was being negotiated. But for these pirates, these four U.S. citizens would be alive and well today. Today’s pirate is no Jack Sparrow.
Although piracy has been a threat to seafaring nations for thousands of years, the emergence of aggressive and persistent attacks off the Horn of Africa is especially concerning.
The killing of the four hostages aboard the Quest certainly increased the attention of the international community on piracy – and the international community has increased its focus on piracy.
The statistics are startling. The New York Times reported in late February that more than 50 vessels were currently captive ranging from Thai fishing trawlers to European supertankers, with more than 800 hostages. These 800 hostages represent mariners and seafarers that are only doing their jobs.
Once captured, these hostages can be held in deplorable conditions for months before release. It is time for the international community to stop this injustice.
The Gulf of Aden and the adjoining Indian Ocean constitute a critical shipping corridor. GAO’s September report on piracy states that over 33,000 ships pass through the Gulf of Aden annually. This includes tanker ships moving 10 to 15 percent of world petroleum shipments. For vessels headed west, the alternative route is around the tip of Africa and adds 4,900 nautical miles to the transit.
The rise of piracy in the region puts mariners in danger and poses an economic burden on ocean carriers and shipping companies. In fact, according to a Chatham House report, insurance premiums in the London insurance market for ships traveling through the Gulf rose tenfold in 2008. Fortunately, U.S. insurance rates have remained stable due to U.S. insurers not yet having to pay claims.
Several factors have contributed to the frequency of pirate attacks. A larger number of high-value targets passing through the Gulf, global proliferation of the small arms trade, and most significantly, persistent civil violence, lawlessness, and economic dislocation in Somalia.
Any comprehensive international approach to combating piracy must address the current political situation in Somalia, it must be truly international, and it must be a solution that will be address piracy around the world.
Somalia does not have a functioning government. With pirates having a virtually unlimited ability to operate from Somalia, piracy cannot be eliminated solely from the sea. I am particularly interested to hear what the State Department witness will say on this subject.
Last week, Bloomberg reported that China and Russia are leading a new effort at the United Nations to curb the threat of piracy off the coast of Somalia and defeat al-Qaeda-linked terrorists fighting to seize control of that nation.
According to the report, Russia has circulated a draft resolution that would commit the UN Security Council to “urgently” begin talks on creation of three courts for piracy cases. The measure also would urge construction of two prisons for convicted pirates, and demand that all nations enact laws to criminalize piracy.
The international community has stepped up efforts to combat piracy. Combined Task Force 151, the multi-national effort joined by the U.S, the European Union Operation ATALANTA, NATO, which the U.S. also supports, and independent states are patrolling the area and providing greater protection to ships traveling through the Gulf.
The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center and MARAD have helped inform the maritime community about piracy and how to implement best practices for ships to evade and defend themselves from pirate attacks.
I look forward to discussing these international efforts with our witnesses.
GAO’s report from last September discusses several challenges and describes a mixed bag of success.
Prosecution of alleged pirates remains logistically difficult, although I note that on February 16, the pirate associated with the attack on the Maersk Alabama was sentenced to 33 years by a New York district judge.
The pirates have greatly expanded their area of attacks to an area as large as the lower 48 States.
There has been a steady increase in the number of attacks, even as the rate of success declines.
The number of hostages being held is increasing.
There are more ransoms being paid at increasing amounts.
These issues raise important questions for our panel.
Are the efforts of the U.S. and the international community succeeding or failing?
Are the rules of engagement changing?
In light of the recent killings, is transit in the area more or less dangerous?
When it comes to piracy in the 21st century, there is no X that marks the spot to point us in the right direction. But, there are several ways that U.S. policymakers can help combat piracy:
Encourage the international commercial maritime industry to adopt best practices;
Continue advances in the use of defensive technologies;
Help coastal states in pirate-prone areas boost their coastal monitoring and interdiction capabilities; and,
Provide resources to the Coast Guard and MARAD so they can continue to advise the industry on how to strengthen its own security.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you again for holding this hearing. I look forward to discussing these issues with the panel, and assessing how government and non-government entities can increase security and decrease opportunities for piracy, and help the maritime community navigate this serious issue.
Lummi Nation has released a written statement responding to the letter sent to the Bureau of Indian Affairs by U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, expressing concern over the statemate in negotiations beween Lummi Nation and Whatcom County over a new lease for the mainland Lummi Island Ferry dock on the Lummi Reservation.
The statement reiterates tribal concerns about traffic safety and the need for a hefty county expenditure on safety improvements in the area as part of any new lease deal.
The statement also refers to a 2009 traffic study prepared for both the county and tribe. In general, the study tends to downplay the safety issues arising from ferry operations.
The emailed statement also includes an interesting chronology of ferry history from the tribe’s perspective. Among other things, the chronology mentions unsuccessful efforts to get funding for traffic safety improvements.
Here is the text of the tribe’s statement, which is silent on the question of whether the tribe is prepared to take steps to stop ferry operations after April 10, 2011, when the tribe’s deadline expires:
The Lummi Nation appreciates Congressman Larsen, Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell engaging in this complex, longstanding issue.
For ten years the Lummi Nation has worked to resolve these issues and obtain a lease that is fair for everyone.
Safety is of paramount concern to the Lummi Nation.
There are numerous safety issues associated with the ferry traffic through the Lummi reservation: increased traffic volume, increased speeding that has contributed to fatalities, delayed access to the roadway because of traffic volume, and fear that our families and our community feel for their safety.
There are numerous safety issues at the side of the ferry dock that is on the Lummi Reservation: ferry line-up interferes with fishermen’s ability to exercise Treaty rights, and ferry line-up impacts pedestrians, including school children and families trying to go to the grocery store. Treaty-protected fishermen often find the boat ramp blocked by the ferry line-up, and ferry wake has damaged boats and led to injuries.
“At the Lummi Nation’s request Whatcom County has studied traffic safety and boat safety related to the side of the Gooseberry Point ferry dock, and these studies identified simple solutions that improve safety for everyone,” Lummi Nation Chairman Cliff Cultee said. “The Lummi Nation has participated in negotiations with Whatcom County for 10 years. The county need only review the findings in its own studies to understand our safety concerns.”
Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen’s effort to get federal help in resolving the Lummi Island ferry stalemate appears to be bearing fruit.
Both Kremen and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, have shared a March 2 letter sent to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, over the signatures of Larsen and U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, concerning the ferry situation.
The letter, addressed to BIA regional director Stanley Speaks in Portland, Ore., seems mild enough. The three say they are “concerned about this matter,” and they ask the BIA to respond to the county and provide “guidance and clarification on the BIA’s role as it relates to the lease of the tidelands held in trust.”
In an accompanying press release, Larsen uses somewhat stronger language:
“The bottom line is, we can not cut off access to the island for residents who depend on the ferry to go to school, shop for groceries or commute to work. Shutting down the ferry is not a solution to this problem. Negotiations on this issue must resume so a productive solution to this issue can be reached without hurting the local community.”
By coincidence, both Kremen and Lummi Indian Business Council Chairman Clifford Cultee are in Washington D.C., and Kremen said he expects to meet with Cultee on Friday, March 4 to discuss the ferry situation.
Up to now, the BIA has shown no inclination to get involved in the ferry issue. Agency officials have said their only role would be to review any new lease agreement between Lummi Nation and the county before it is approved. Here’s an earlier story on the BIA’s role.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen provided a brief statement Wednesday, Feb. 16 on the negotiation stalemate between Whatcom County and Lummi Nation over a new lease to insure continued operation of the Lummi Island Ferry.
I emailed Larsen for a comment after county officials said they had appealed to him and Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell for their assistance in helping to resolve the matter.
“Whoever told the Lummi Nation that cutting off the lifeline of the 900 residents of Lummi Island is a good idea, is giving them terrible advice,” Larsen replied. ” I hope that the County and the Tribe will return to the table to negotiate a productive solution to this issue that addresses the needs of the local community.”
In a followup email, I have asked Larsen whether he is in a position to discuss this situation with federal agencies such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of Interior, which oversees the bureau. I’ll relay his response as it becomes available.
Larsen spokeswoman Emily Halnon has relayed this response:
“Rick has reached out to the Bureau of Indian Affairs a number of times to clarify how the federal government can be involved in this process. There is not a regulatory or oversight role at the federal level other than the BIA approving the final lease on the tidelands-which does not include the lease for the actual land.”
I have also asked the tribe for a response to Larsen’s comment.
Tip Johnson, a former Bellingham City Council member and prominent civic activist, has examined documents from county archives going back more than 100 years that appear to document the existence of a county right-of-way for ferry access to the island, granted by the Department of the Interior.
Up to this point, county attorneys have said they didn’t think that the right-of-way argument was a trump card they could play in ferry negotiations.
But if the ferry issue moves from the negotiating table to the courtroom in a couple of months, it would not be surprising to see attorneys for the county and/or the islanders introducing these documents into evidence.
from John Stark
Just got off the phone with Rep. Rick Larsen, the Democrat representing the 2nd District that includes Whatcom County.
Larsen says it’s likely that his district will shed a few precincts on its southern end, in Snohomish County, but he doesn’t think that means any big change in the political makeup of the district.
“Bellingham and Everett will continue to be the bookends of the 2nd District,” Larsen said.
He also said the conventional wisdom expects the new district to be centered in Thurston and/or south Pierce counties.