Monday, January 21, 2008

A Few Belated Responses on MLK Day:

Let's honor the memory and legacy of Martin Luther King! He was an inspiration to us all, but much is still left to do since his death.

Since the last posting some stuff has happened.

Nice hike at Point Reyes, Oysters for Dinner, NFL Conference Championship Games, fixing up an old house for retirement, watching the Demo debates in South Carolina, and finally catching up on reading about Bellingham and its 'issues'.

So much information, with so little to add, but some comments anyway from the perspective of someone who has recently served in local office, but is now sufficiently removed from that obligation to comment more candidly and without the caution of 'officially' offending any constituent.

1. Tip Johnson's lament about 'non coverage' of a 'mob' attending a Fairhaven Highlands [Chuckanut Ridge] public hearing is ludicrous!
I've got news for you Tip, it was not a newsworthy event. That is, except for some NIMBY folks who want to manufacture an 'issue'.
This land was zoned for development in 1980 [your watch?], is within City Limits and makes sense for development as long as the EIS conditions are reasonably met. If development cannot occur there, where can it occur?
Didn't this happen on your watch on the City Council?
Why didn't you take action on it then?
I'm thinking the entertainment value of mischievously taunting local government is more of an incentive to folks like you than any other reason, but what do I know?

I invite advocates of 'saving the 100-acre woods' [actually 85 acres, of which 50 will likely be saved for Critical Areas purposes anyway] to adopt a cause that is more worthy of their effort.
Like maybe protecting the Lake Whatcom Reservoir, truly affordable housing, or meaningful Charter Review for example.

Find another way of having fun, other than at citizen's expense.
I know it is tempting to keep doing what you're doing, and reliving visions of emulating the Chicago 7, but grow up will you?

2. The brouhaha over GMA Land Supply needs to end as well. The City did its due diligence and came up with a its estimate of future land supply needs, which the County disagrees with for whatever reason. The new Mayor and Council Members are now advocating less land supply, which is their prerogative regardless of whether they participated in the lengthy process of analyzing future needs.

Political reality dictates their pronouncements be honored. Do it! It makes no difference who is right or wrong, because the County has the stroke to make the final decision. But, make sure what the City agrees to conforms to what it can deliver!
To me that means to reduce the percentage of City agreed growth from 51.4% to about 40%. Make sure that happens and I believe the City's liability will be minimal.

3. Today's Herald story 'Cordata-area residents seek branch library. North-siders say they may oppose bond proposal.
That litany is beginning to sound like the whines of the so-called 'Greenways Legacy' crowd. You know, the ones who were willing to sabotage Greenways 3 if they didn't get their way?

Get serious people! It's hard enough to get folks to vote for the real necessities, much less the wants of every neighborhood in town! Do you have any idea of how expensive any of these projects are likely to be? Public Bond Issues only pay for capital projects. They don't even begin to meet the ongoing operating costs of sustaining a Branch Library, which would likely require 2 or 3 permanent staff at $50k to $75k per year apiece to maintain. That money needs to be provided from the General Fund, and would likely amount to the entire 1% in Property Taxes that the Council is able to approve without a public vote!

The idea of additional branches has been very seriously considered for several years by the Library Board, all of whom are citizen volunteers. If the feasibility is not there, you need to respect that finding. And, without an updated and modernized Central Library, there is no strong Trunk to support the Branches.

People already know where the Central Library is -in everyone's neighborhood- and are using it in numbers that are growing nearly every month, despite Internet use and travel time. The current site was picked largely for that reason, and partly because the City already owns the site. That alone, saves millions on the cost of another site. The 'park' behind the Library will be preserved, but to the south of the proposed new library building, where it can enjoy -above grade- sunshine with closer access to the Childrens' Museum and the Cultural District. And does anyone really doubt there is need for some additional parking?

I hope you good Northside folks aren't really willing to oppose a bond campaign! I -and the entire reading community- certainly hope you will get behind this issue as one that will benefit everyone in our community for many years to come.

4. The NFL Conference Championship Games sounded pretty good, although I only saw some of the last parts of the 2nd game between the Jints and the Packers, including the overtime.
My sense was that the Jints deserved to win.
Also, that the Super Bowl may be closer than the 14 point spread in favor of the Patriots.
I really don't care who wins as long as it is a close, competitive, well played game.
You know, kinda like local politics.