Sunday, November 30, 2008
Healthy coasts and estuaries are essential to the nation's economy and wellbeing. The aesthetic beauty of coasts and estuaries inspires us, provides opportunities for recreation, and teaches us about the natural environment.
Estuaries provide unmistakable economic value to our nation, supporting a disproportionately large share of economic output and population. Coasts and estuaries protect more than $800 billion of trade each year, tens of billions of dollars in recreational opportunities annually, and more than 45 percent of the nation's petroleum refining capacity.
In addition to their economic value, healthy estuaries provide critical ecological functions. They provide habitat for plants, fish and wildlife, support threatened and endangered species, and filter pollutants from water. Healthy estuaries and coasts also enable our shorelines to be more resilient to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. Restored salt marshes protect communities from storms and floods and may reduce the need to build seawalls to protect developed shoreline areas against sea level rise. Estuaries also help counter climate change by capturing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it.
Our nation's coasts and estuaries are in serious trouble. Pollution has rendered 44 percent of tested U.S. estuaries and 12 percent of ocean shoreline waters unfit for uses such as swimming, fishing, or supporting aquatic life. An estimated two million U.S. dams block 600,000 miles of passage for thousands of coastal fish that try to reach native spawning grounds. And, the United States has lost 55 million acres of coastal and estuarine habitat along its coastline due to development, pollution, and other human-made and natural causes, and its coastal habitat continues to disappear at a rate of between 1.2 percent and 9 percent a year.
Our Vision for the Future We envision healthy and abundant coastal and estuarine ecosystems on every coast of the United States, and a shared and common national effort to protect and restore these irreplaceable resources, and the communities and livelihoods that depend on them. We also envision a habitat restoration community that is a vibrant, diverse collection of tens of thousands of individuals, organizations, businesses, and government agencies working together to restore our coasts and vital estuaries. Together, this group of scientists, practitioners, engineers, volunteers, and others will have the capacity, support, knowledge, and expertise necessary to restore the health of our nation's coasts and estuaries.
How Do We Get There? We the undersigned call on the new Administration and the 111th Congress to strengthen the nation's ability to restore and protect estuarine ecosystems by taking the following critical actions:
1. Increase the Pace and Scale of Restoration The new Administration and the 111th Congress should provide capacity and funding to significantly increase the pace and scale of coastal and estuarine habitat restoration. The myriad of federal programs aimed at protecting and restoring coasts and estuaries has been underfunded. We urge the new Administration and Congress to show strong federal commitment to adequately invest in habitat restoration programs, and also to create innovative ways to support the management, protection, restoration, and understanding of coastal and ocean resources, such as through a national ocean trust fund.
2. Fulfill the Commitment to make Restoration a National Priority The new Administration and the 111th Congress should fulfill the commitment to make coastal and estuarine habitat restoration a national priority. When Congress passed the Estuary Restoration Act in 2000, they recognized the importance of addressing the problems plaguing our nation's estuaries and restoring estuary habitat. This commitment, however, has not been fulfilled and the new Administration and Congress should ensure that restoration is a national priority, aggressive restoration goals are established, and funding is committed to achieve those goals. We also urge the new Administration to strengthen interagency coordination with the many federal agencies that play a role in habitat restoration.
3. Increase and Foster Restoration Partnerships The new Administration and the 111th Congress should identify ways to increase and foster effective restoration partnerships that include diverse public and private organizations and agencies to maximize effectiveness at the federal, state, and local levels. Participation and coordination among diverse pubic and private groups and community and volunteer involvement are necessary components of successful habitat restoration, and they should be fostered by the new Administration and Congress.
4. Counter Climate Change Impacts through Restoration The new Administration and the 111th Congress should actively pursue strategies to increase coastal and estuarine habitat restoration to strengthen the resilience of our coastlines to withstand and recover from climate change impacts and to increase carbon sequestration. Healthy estuaries help counter climate change by capturing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it. Additionally, communities that adequately protect the health of their natural coastal environment will be more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
5. Increase Support for Restoration Science, Monitoring, and Adaptive Management The new Administration and the 111th Congress should increase support for restoration science, monitoring, and adaptive management. The habitat restoration community has the scientific knowledge to undertake complex restoration projects, but with a better understanding we will restore the health of our estuaries and coasts more effectively. The new Administration and Congress should provide support for restoration science and monitoring, which is critical to assessing restoration progress and success. An adaptive management approach should be encouraged and results should be communicated so that the restoration community can gain from collective experience.
Let Your Voice Be Heard! The coastal and estuarine habitat restoration community needs your support.
Join the Call to Action today by clicking here.
"American workers covered by traditional pension plans -- the ones 100% funded and managed by companies for employees -- have so far avoided that sinking feeling.
Unlike the 401(k) crowd, they don't get monthly statements bearing the grim news of the lousy performance of the investments in their pension plans.
But with stocks and bonds crushed, many of these old-school defined-benefit plans now look downright wobbly. If the economic weakness continues long enough, many could end up in the hands of the independent government agency responsible for taking over failing plans."(Michael Brush) http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/CompanyFocus/up-next-a-huge-pension-bailout.aspx
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Scientists discovered the shrimp's need for speed after it was placed on a home-made exercise machine in a tank of water to see how far it would travel for food.
Scientists were amazed with the results which showed the crustacean could jog at speeds of 66ft per minute and go on for three hours before needing a rest."
The shrimp video can be accessed by clicking the title of this post or, here's the direct link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMO8Pyi3UpY
Believe it or not - this video is the result of a science experiment. Who said scientists live dull lives?
Background article from live science by Sara Goudarzi, LiveScience Staff Writer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMO8Pyi3UpY
Second link to shrimp on a treadmill without music: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1513658585/bctid1670022565
Paula Wissel has covered the law and justice beat as a reporter at public radio station KPLU for more than a decade. She began her KPLU career in 1989 when she was hired as a local host for "All Things Considered."
Prior to moving to Seattle, she worked in public television in Idaho. She also worked in public TV and radio in upstate New York and San Francisco, where she graduated from Lone Mountain College, now part of the University of San Francisco. She was born and raised in Idaho.
Paula’s memorable moment in public radio: "Sitting in a King County courtroom when Green River killer Gary Ridgway pleaded guilty to strangling 48 women. As the serial killer responded to each charge in an emotionless tone, the families of the murder victims sat quietly crying. They'd been waiting decades for the killer to be caught. It reinforced my feeling that, with this or any tragedy, the people left behind live with the pain long after I have packed up my microphone and gone home."
The Board's second new member is David Seago, longtime editorial page editor of The News Tribune in Tacoma. Seago, 59, retired from that post in July of this year after a 40-year career with the newspaper.
He began with the TNT as an office boy, fetching mail and filling paste pots, then graduated to a reporting job during summers while attending Stanford University. He earned a masters degree from the Columbia University School of Journalism, then began working full-time as a reporter in 1972. After beat reporting on consumer affairs and education, he filled several newsroom editing positions, including city editor, before becoming an editorial writer in 1983. He was named editorial page editor in 1995.
The TNT's editorial page under Seago consistently supported the cause of open government and the disclosure of public records in particular.
Seago, continues to serve on the boards of two nonprofit groups that tutor elementary students in reading and provide services for the disabled, respectively.
The Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG) is an independent non-partisan non-profit organization founded in 2002 by a group of individuals representing organizations with a broad spectrum of opinions and backgrounds, all dedicated to the principles of strengthening the state’s open government laws and protecting the public’s access to government at all levels.
For more information, contact Washington Coalition for Open Government, 6351 Seaview Avenue NW, Seattle, WA 98107-2664 or on the web at www.washingtoncog.org or call (206) 782-0393 or FAX (206) 623-4474.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Two Nodes (parks) will be built into the forest hilltop, supporting wetlands and wild life. The schematic designs are pleasing, and the draft copy is descriptive.
When the land was acquired in 1992; P&R knew there would be challenges for the community to access this park (stated by Park rep. on 11/20/08 at GAC meeting.) The intent “is to keep park facilities at the neighborhood park level due to the access from local streets,” (Fact Sheet Northridge Park, 2/20/02.)
The South Node is directly located off the arterial street of Barkley Boulevard. “The arterial net work is the “backbone” of the roadway system and accommodates the most trips for all modes” of transportation (reference taken from: Seattle Right-Of-Way Improvements Manual.)
The North Node is located off a collector street and is also a dead end street. The Community has already out grown a “neighborhood” park that has not been built. Barkley Village has arrived and construction levels are still increasing. All the land around, and below the park has been developed and Barkley at Woburn is continues to develop.
Here are some of the obstacles Carrington Way currently faces:
Traffic, it shouldn’t have been opened as an access street from the County at its conception, the physical street of upper Carrington is settling 3-4 inches in one area and the rest of the street shows the same type of settling, it was not designed adequately to accommodate a “Community” park, upper Carrington street is less is size than lower Carrington, it was intended only for the traffic of its residents and visitors.
Residential streets are designed to promote the residential quality of the neighborhood.
The Tweed Twenty neighborhood uses Carrington as a connector to Barkley Boulevard. That traffic use on to Carrington Way has largely grown in the 13 years of this neighborhood’s development. Traffic speeds have pick up, and a large amount of those vehicles do not yield as stop signs. This is a daily occurrence witnessed by the residents.
Now, onto the park land: It’s a dense hilltop forest, of old growth trees, supporting wetlands and wildlife. Barkley Hill provides the backdrop to the MBNA. Due to the dense tree population, the soil is never at a total dry stage. An example of moist soil is in my back yard. It sits on the forest floor and it never has the time to dry out because of it’s forest location. My side and back yard are spongy 10 months of the year.
The park property accommodates natural storm drainage and run off. Some wetlands are small, others large and a duck pond exists on the property. The land has several trail connections to neighborhoods and a tunnel under Barkley Boulevard connects with other neighborhoods. Currently there are only two usable, street vehicle access points to the park. N.P will be designed as a neighborhood park but it’s intended for community use. Such development can not be supported by the parking accommodations and the entry points; more pavements for parking are not the answer.
Background Information on streets and neighborhoods:
References to street descriptions were taken from the “Seattle Right-Of-Way Improvements manual:”
“Side streets are built to mostly and intended only for the traffic of their residents and visitors. However, many side streets that do not dead end are also used for rat running by motorists in congested areas.
In urban planning culs-de-sac are created to limit through-traffic in residential areas. While some culs-de-sac provide no possible passage except in and out of their road entry, others allow cyclists, pedestrians or other non-automotive traffic to pass through connecting easements or paths.
In traffic engineering parlance, the cul-de-sac defines the local street as having primarily an 'access' (to properties) function rather than as one having a 'transport' or 'through' function.
Taken from Bellingham Neighborhood Traffic Study Program:
WHAT IS A RESIDENTIAL STREET?
Residential streets, or local service streets, make up the majority of Bellingham's street system. These streets serve local auto, bicycle, and pedestrian circulation
needs and provide access to local residences and businesses. Residential streets, unlike arterials, should not carry significant volumes of through-traffic. The City
does not apply the NTSP program to designated arterial streets (see below).
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS?
The most common problems on residential streets are high vehicle speeds and
excessive volumes of through-traffic. Consequently this can lead to related
problems such as traffic noise, increased pedestrian and bicycle conflicts, and an
overall decrease in quality of life.
…” (roads) designed to promote the residential quality of the neighborhood…”
City of Bellingham Municipal Code
Title 20 LAND USE DEVELOPMENT
Chapter 10 GENERAL PROVISIONS
c. Existing wetlands, streams, significant trees, topographical features and other natural features shall be saved, preserved and enhanced to the greatest extent possible consistent with reasonable and appropriate use of the subject site. Links between open spaces and pedestrian routes shall be facilitated whenever possible.
City of Bellingham Municipal Code15.42.020 -
For purposes of this Chapter, the following definitions shall apply: A. Arterial: A road or street primarily for through traffic. A major arterial connects an Interstate Highway to cities and counties. A minor arterial connects major arterials to collectors. A collector connects an arterial to a neighborhood. A collector is not an arterial. A local access road connects individual homes to a collector.
DD. Native vegetation: Vegetation comprised of plant species, other than noxious weeds, that are indigenous to the coastal region of the Pacific Northwest and which reasonably could have been expected to naturally occur on the site. Examples include trees such as Douglas Fir, western hemlock, western red cedar, alder, big-leaf maple, and vine maple; shrubs such as willow, elderberry, salmonberry, and salal; and herbaceous plants such as sword fern, foam flower, and fireweed.
CCC. Wetlands: Those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas. Wetlands do not include those artificial wetlands intentionally created from non-wetland sites, including, but not limited to, irrigation and drainage ditches, grass-lined swales, canals, detention facilities, wastewater treatment facilities, farm ponds, and landscape amenities, or those wetlands created after July 1, 1990, that were unintentionally created as a result of the construction of a road, street, or highway.
Wetlands may include those artificial wetlands intentionally created from non-wetland areas to mitigate the conversion of wetlands. (Waterbodies not included in the definition of wetlands as well as those mentioned in the definition are still waters of the State.)
THROUGH TRAFFIC CALMING
Traffic conditions on residential streets can greatly affect neighborhood livability.
When streets are safe and pleasant, quality of life is enhanced. When traffic
problems become a daily occurrence, sense of community and personal well-being may become threatened.
The City of Bellingham has developed a Neighborhood Traffic Safety Program
(NTSP) to enhance the safety and livability of residential streets in neighborhoods.
Under this program, the City's NTSP Team works with residents to help identify
neighborhood traffic problems and implement solutions that are both acceptable and appropriate for the residential streets in their neighborhoods.
Thirty years later, the act was amended to address electronic forms of data. From a global perspective, the public’s right to access government records is a privilege in some countries and an ongoing, heated debate in others.
Here is an overview of your rights under the U.S. federal FOIA, including its most recent changes. http://www.publicintegrity.org/tools/entry/310/
General Instructions for Filing Requests
Exemptions under the FOIA
Suggested FOI Resources
Sample FOIA Request Letter
Among the nation's daily newspapers in 2007, "circulation fell another 2.5 percent from the year before, advertising revenues declined by 7 percent, and the growth of online advertising slowed significantly, according to the "State of the News Media 2008" report by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism. Despite newspaper companies' cost-cutting initiatives, their profits and share prices continue to drop."
"Average daily readership also waned, falling from 58.6 percent of adults in 1998 to 48.4 percent last year, according to the Newspaper Association of America. Among young adults 25 to 34 years old, readership fell from 45.9 percent to 33.7 percent."
Can the non-profit world save journalim?
Click here to read more: http://www.nationaljournal.com/njmagazine/nj_20081112_7923.php?related=true&story1=mm_20081121_2641&story2=nj_20081112_7923&story3=ll_20081011_9746
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Earlier this year, Commissioner Southerland admitted that he had Sexually Harassed a young, DNR female employee. He also admitted that his behavior caused the young woman to quit her job.
Southerland was bested by Peter Goldmark, a biologist from Eastern Washington.
Peter Goldmark's website: http://www.petergoldmark.com/
According to the documents below - the City has conducted all of the discussions about purchasing the building behind closed doors.
From: Bob Koski
To: Ted H. Gathe
Cc: Tyler, Lloyd ; Tim Leavitt ; Royce Pollard ; Pollard, Royce ; Pat McDonnell ; Pat Jollata ; Larry Smith ; Jeanne Stewart ; Jeanne Harris ; Campbell, Pat
Sent: Monday, November 17, 2008 7:23 AM
Subject: Citizen Service Center (CSC) Replacement Project Briefing Memorandum
Dear Mr. Gathe;
On Thursday October 9, 2008, City Manager Pat McDonnell sent out a Memorandum entitled "Replacement of the Citizen's Service Center". That memorandum was prepared in response to the earlier announcement of the pending bankruptcy filing of the Columbian, and word that the building would be put up for sale.
In that Memorandum the City Manager said, in part, that the process could take "several months" and that any action would have to be authorized specifically by City Council.On Friday November 13, the City of Vancouver's Development Director Eric Holmes issued a different Memorandum (attached) to the City Manager, in which he made a number of stunning and very troubling statements.
1. "The city’s team recently gave updates on both acquisition and construction options at the Facilities Executive Sponsor Team (FEST). Many of the questions posed at that meeting, in other Council forums and by the media regarding the acquisition alternative cannot yet be answered because we have not completed any due diligence on the building."
2. "Meanwhile, the city team has engaged an “expert review panel” of business leaders with extensive finance, real estate and construction experience and skills to serve as a sounding board on this issue. They include: • Pat Schaefer, Riverview Bank• Paul Christensen, Realvest• Ron Frederickson, RSV Construction• David Horowitz, CPA• Scott Fraser, Industrial Broker, GVA Kidder Matthews• Wally Hornberger, Commercial Broker, Coldwell Banker"
3. "The city’s team met with these leaders in October to review the potential of acquisition of an existing building as an alternative to constructing our own CSC replacement facility. Each believed it was a prudent business move for the city to seriously explore acquisition as an alternative to construction. Moreover, these business leaders strenuously advised that the city retain an expert broker to represent us in any due diligence and negotiations to ensure a neutral, arms-length, third-party, expert process."
4. "As a result of this feedback, the city completed a procurement process in early November to hire a commercial broker. Of the four submitting firms, Eric Fuller & Associates ranked as the most qualified after review of written submittals and interviews. The business panel members, who provided input in the review and selection process, agreed. Our agreement with Eric Fuller & Associates provides for their fees, if any, to be paid by the seller, so result in no direct costs to the City. If no purchase is ever perfected, the City pays nothing to Eric Fuller & Associates."
Mr. Gathe, it is deeply troubling to me that the City's Development Director Eric Holmes was able to proceed as far as he has, just one month after the City Manager said it would take much longer than that just to gather all of the facts, and guaranteed that City Council would make any decisions about this purchase.
I have heard not one word from anyone on Council discussing this in Public, nor have any of them indicated to me that an Executive Session was convened already to consider this issue in private.
I am requesting that your office investigate this memorandum, and find out exactly how Eric Holmes was able to convene a panel of experts, receive their judgment that a purchase of the Columbian building was the best option for the City to pursue, all while the City Council has been focused on the 2009-2010 Budget, and all in a little over 1 month's time.
I believe this particular transaction is fraught with hazards, and I want to be certain that responsible, elected, and accountable people are properly supervising the City Manager's Office as well as the City's Development Department.
Was anyone on City Council consulted about the process Mr Homes describes in his memo, and if so who was it?
Did anyone on City Council approve these actions by Mr. Holmes? If so, who?
Was a proper Executive Session conducted to authorize Mr. Homes to proceed in this manner? If so, when was it conducted and who was in attendance?
In addition Mr. Gathe, it strikes me that if tT Columbian Publishing Company is indeed filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, then the Bankruptcy Court will have to determine what assets the company owns, what the value of those assets are, and how they shall be disposed of.
Am I wrong in presuming that the Bankruptcy Court will have a big say in the potential sale of anything owned by the Columbian?
Am I wrong to be concerned that the City's Development Director is apparently unaware of what role a bankruptcy court will play in all of this?
Finally, Mr. Holmes indicates in his memorandum that any fees associated with the Eric Fuller and Associates will be paid by "the seller". Considering that the seller, The Columbian, is filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, it strikes me that "the seller" will gladly pay for a lot of Eric Fuller and Associates' time, if that time leads to a prompt sale if the building to the City of Vancouver. At the very least we have the appearance of impropriety here since "the seller" has a vested interest in this transaction.
This does not look like transparent Government to me. There has been a great deal of activity on this subject that has taken place behind closed doors, out of Public view, and by employees of the City of Vancouver who do not have statutory authority to approve these kinds of actions on behalf of the City's voters.
If City Council is truly supposed to be involved in this process and approve everything that takes place on a decision of this magnitude, then I look to your office for the assurance that is in fact happening in accordance with Public Disclosure Commission rules and in accordance with the City Charter and the Revised Code of Washington.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to clearing this matter up promptly.
Robert J. Koski
Citizen Service Center (CSC) Replacement Project Briefing Memo (Click Me to read the original)
Chapter 42.30 RCW
Open public meetings act
Here is the link to Clark Blog: http://www.clarkblog.org/vBulletin/showthread.php?t=3692
Clarkblog has received 1.5 million visitors during the last 11 months.
In 2008, a number of Republicans were publicly exposed for campaign and ethics violations.
U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) lost his bid for re-election this week to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, a Democrat, by 3724 votes.
Earlier today, Senator Stevens, a 40 year Senate veteran, delivered a farewell speech on the floor of the Senate during the final hours of the 110th Congress.
Stevens plans to appeal a D.C. Court's decision that he is guilty of 7 felony counts for not properly reporting gifts he received from oil industry officials.
Laurie Kellman's entire story can be read here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/latestheadlines/story/679783.html
Stevens gives last Senate speech as staffers weep
Recently, the Center for Public Integrity conducted an indepth investigation into Superfund sites listed by the EPA.
Locally, Georgia Pacific Corporation, Oeser Corporation, Swift Creek and Northwest Transformer (2 sites) in Everson have been listed as Superfund sites.
CPI investigators report, "Superfund is desperately short of money to clean up abandoned waste sites, which has created a backlog of sites that continue to menace the environment and, quite often, the health of nearby residents."
Below, I have included links to articles about the investigation for your review. To reach the website, please click the title of this article or here: http://projects.publicintegrity.org/superfund/ The website lists detailed information about former and current Superfund sites and identifies 100 corporations that are identified with 40% of U.S. Superfund sites.
Human Exposure 'Uncontrolled' at 114 Superfund Sites
EPA secrecy about sites' toxic dangers extends even to senators' inquiries WASHINGTON, May 18, 2007 — "Scattered across the country, from New Jersey to California, are 114 toxic waste sites where the federal government has determined that the threat to humans from dangerous and sometimes carcinogenic substances is "not under control." >>
Contaminated, But Still Not Off-Limits
High levels of likely carcinogen found at New Jersey brook that the EPA calls safe for recreational use
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2007 — "For the past eight years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has assured residents of South Plainfield, N.J., that it is safe to swim in Bound Brook, even though the stream runs alongside a Superfund site — the EPA's designation for the country's worst toxic waste sites." >>
EPA diverts money from shared Superfund pool
Little-known change that helps agency meet funding challenges scrutinized
WASHINGTON, May 10, 2007 — "The Environmental Protection Agency has diverted $709 million collected from possible Superfund polluters over the past seven years to special accounts, putting hundreds of millions of dollars out of reach of other Superfund sites waiting for cleanup." >>
EPA pays at least three firms to clean up pollution they may have helped create
WASHINGTON, May 10, 2007 — "At least three companies that the Environmental Protection Agency has linked to hazardous waste sites have landed government contracts to clean up their own sites, according to an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity." >>
Bankrupt Companies Avoid More Than $700 Million in Cleanup Costs
When firms fail, the government collects pennies on the dollar for Superfund site work
WASHINGTON, May 3, 2007 — "Four companies connected by the Environmental Protection Agency to some of America's worst toxic waste sites have escaped more than half a billion dollars in pollution cleanup costs by declaring bankruptcy, potentially passing the tab onto taxpayers." >>
Massive undertaking to clean up hazardous waste sites has lost both momentum and funding
WASHINGTON, April 26, 2007 — "Communities across America face a daunting threat from hazardous waste sites — some near neighborhoods and schools — 27 years after the federal government launched the landmark Superfund program to wipe out the problem, a Center for Public Integrity investigation has found."
Background Resource Materials from EPA:
Northwest Transformer: Mission/Pole Roads http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/CLEANUP.NSF/7d19cd587dff1eee8825685f007d56b7/e2384f18eb0c1bba8825685f006e9df1!OpenDocument
Northwest Transformer: Harkness Road http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/CLEANUP.NSF/7d19cd587dff1eee8825685f007d56b7/30bbdcdaff0a9da088256547005e741d!OpenDocument
Georgia Pacific site(s): (multiple sites) ASB, Whatcom Waterway and former G.P. Uplands http://oaspub.epa.gov/enviro/tri_formr_partone.get_details?rpt_year=2001&fac_id=98225GRGPC300WL&ban_flag=Y
Here's how to file a FOIA http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/extaff.nsf/webpage/freedom+of+information+act
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I have recently rejected two comments from anonymous visitor(s) who attempted to publish hateful and defamatory comments about Mr. Paxton, the McShanes and this author.
No one, (not even me), forces a politician to behave or act in a manner that is legally unethical. Politicians make decisions to obey or not obey the law based on their personal ethics and moral values. Sometimes, those decisions have negative legal consequences for the elected official.
The act of "shooting the messenger" by the politician, his supporters or the media does not exonerate a politician from breaking state or federal laws.
In order to facilitate healthy community discussion of political behavior, Latte Republic has posted the following statement:
"Politics encompasses a wide variety of activities, from government elections and office holding to public policy and expressing ideological beliefs. For each of these actions, there are ethical considerations and consequences.No discipline is more visible, thus political ethics is a hotly debated and very public arena."
Here are Latte Republic's posted rules for comments:
No Spam: self-promotion is fine but it should come along with the promotion of others, too.
No Hate: Disagreement and diversity are accepted and encouraged, personal attacks are not. Please keep in mind that it is normal for people to disagree about issues. But try to do so respectfully.
No Vulgarity: This is a family friendly site.
I have attempted to be flexible and tolerant of commenter's opinions. But I have learned that there are individuals who live in this community who are not emotionally or mentally stable.
For the record, I'm not obligated to interact with these people, not publicly, not even privately. They do not have a right to have access to me.
A handful of individuals continue to levy personal attacks against me, not because I have filed "campaign related" complaints (the same individuals who criticize me for filing campaign-related complaints do not attack other complaint filers, such as, former State Supreme Court Justices Faith Ireland, Robert Utter, Rick Dubrow, of A-1 Builders, or Robyn Du Pre, of ReSources for filing campaign violations).
No, my critics only target individuals who have filed complaints against Mayor Dan Pike.
This statement apparently also holds true for the local media. Ken Mann and Sam Taylor have not attacked Robyn Du Pre, Rick Dubrow or the former State Supreme Court Justices for filing campaign-related complaints against the BIAW or Realtors.
Nor has Tim Johnson, editor of the Cascadia Weekly accused those folks of having an agenda or a desire to twist the screws of justice in order to place Mayor Dan Pike in a bad light.
No, the above members of the media only appear to enjoy criticizing individuals who have filed complaints against Mayor Dan Pike by repeatedly questioning the motivations of the individuals who file complaints, calling the complaints themselves "campaign stunts" or "smear campaigns" as if turning the "violator" into a victim somehow exonerates the candidate from violating state and federal campaign laws. (After all, Dan Pike is really a nice guy - it's those folks who called your attention to the fact that he allegedly broke the law that have problems).
Apparently, certain members of the media are of the opinion that elected officials, like Mayor Pike, have the right to pick and choose which laws they want to recognize and obey. (I guess they buy into the notion that elected officials are entitled to perks that the rest of us can not possibly hope to enjoy).
Never mind that the rest of the population is obligated to abide by a wide array of "obscure laws." For instance, some may not necessarily agree with (speed limit laws - IRS laws, WACs, or laws that govern public and private behavior or business activities, etc.).
The point being, (charges of obscurity aside), no one, not even our anointed Mayor Dan Pike, has the legal right to decide which laws are valid and which laws are invalid. Those decisions rest squarely with regulating agencies, courts and legislative bodies.
If the law is on the books, it is a valid, enforceable law.
If local citizens and or the media find that they are offended by a particular law, they should work to change the law - not attack individuals who file complaints under the law.
Citizens can only file complaints under existing state and federal statutes and code. (As written). Citizens do not have the abilty to determine which laws are "just" or which laws are "unjust." That responsibility belongs to the people we elect to represent us --local, state and federal legislators.
Tim Johnson and Ken Mann may object to the Hatch Act, but neither man has the right to accuse complainants of abusing the law. In fact, such accusations are abusive of citizens in their own, unique way.
Mayor Pike may be the Mayor of Bellingham. But he is held to the same standard of accountability under the law as any other citizen who lives or works in this nation.
Hence, let it be publicly known that I will not publish comments that are:
1) Personal attacks on individuals who are featured in the media, other commenters or on myself.
2) Attacks that are laced with profanity or vulgarity.
3) Comments which advocate, suggest, condone, justify, or imply violence towards me or other members of the community.
4) Comments (or threats) demanding that I not post articles on certain subjects, including Mayor Dan Pike's campaign violations.
5) Comments that are not associated with the subject matter of the post. If you haven't read the bloody post, don't comment on it.
6) Comments that try to link me to one campaign or another. I'm not working on any campaigns - nor am I stumping for potential future local candidates. (Or, the 2007 Mayor's election is over and Dan McShane is not running again).
7) Comments that accuse other members of the community of being part of a conspiracy.
Personally, I believe that proponents on either side of an issue have a right to be heard. But the right to be heard does not include the right to harass, annoy, or threaten members of the community or a blog administrator for discussing issues that are in the public spot light.
Latte Republic will not tolerate attempts by Mayor Pike's supporters to censor postings. Nor will Latte Republic tolerate discriminatory behavior against those who speak out publicly regarding Mayor Pike's past and current political behavior.
Mayor Pike claims that he is unable to control his supporters. But that does not mean that I am obligated to print ugly, hateful comments posted by those supporters.
If the Mayor's supporters want to discuss issues in a manner that is defamatory and intimidating to others - I suggest they start their own blogs under their own name. Blogger.com or Wordpress offer free blogs to members of the public.
In summation, the reader and blog commenter do not have the "right" to post here. Please remember that the ability to post comments on Latte Republic is a privilege, not a "right."
In closing, please note that there is no such thing as "anonymous blogging" Even administrators who host free blogging sites, such as blogger, (my site) can install programs that store IP address and other relevant information about a commenter, just in case we are ever threatened or harmed.
I report all credible threats to the FBI and local police. I will not be threatened or have local thugs tell me which topics I can cover or not cover on Latte Republic.
Over the next two weeks, Latte will publish copies of documents signed by Mayor Pike while he was employed by Skagit Council of Governments (SCOG) and Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
Please note that I will not tolerate any threats related to these postings.
The public has a right to know if Mayor Dan Pike was aware of the Hatch Act before he filed to run for public office.
I pray that this is the last time I have to post an article on this topic.
Even I'm nauseated by the repetitive behavior of a few, disgruntled ex-campaign supporters (and members of the media) who can't seem to get it thorough their head that local, state and federal law applies to each and every one of us.
Elected or not.
No one at Latte Republic forced Mayor Pike to violate state and federal campaign laws. He made that decision completely on his own.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The Encyclopedia of Public Health tells us that "there are three main direct public health risks from open water dumping: (1) occupational accidents, injuries, and exposures; (2) exposure of the public to hazardous or toxic materials washed up on beaches; and (3) human consumption of marine organisms that have been contaminated by open water disposal. Periodically, medical and other wastes from both legal and illegal dumping have washed up on beaches, resulting in exposure to beachgoers and, in some cases, the closure of beaches until the wastes could be removed. Consumption of fish and shellfish contaminated from radioactive wastes may pose a serious problem worldwide because of nuclear waste dumping in the oceans."
The Washington State Department of Ecology has compiled a database that stores all measurable toxic sediment contamination in Puget Sound.
John Dohrmann, of the Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team tells us the "best available estimate is that out of 3,200 square miles of submerged lands, 6.4 square miles are so contaminated as to require active cleanup. One square mile can be addressed through capping in place. The other 5.4 square miles will require dredging of between 3.9 and 12.4 million cubic yards. The larger dredging volume would cover a football field with a pile half a mile high."
Bellingham Bay has 12 listed clean up sites (including two former superfund sites related to G.P. and the Oeser Corporation Superfund site) that will require dredging and capping to address toxic sediment contamination that threatens the health and safety of Bellingham residents.
Concern about public health impacts of toxic marine sediments led to the creation of the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority. In 1987, the Puget Sound Water Quality Management Plan was developed. The goal of the Puget Sound Water Quality Management Plan is:
"To reduce and ultimately eliminate adverse effects on biological resources and humans from sediment contamination throughout the Sound by reducing or eliminating discharges of toxic contaminants and by capping, treating or removing contaminated sediments."
Toxic chemicals in urban hotspots such as Bellingham have been shown to harm shellfish, finfish, humans and Puget Sound wildlife.
Shell fish and fin fish may accumulate contaminants from water, sediments, or food in their tissues. This can result in concentrations of the contaminant many times higher than those found in the environment. The degree of bioaccumulation depends on the level of exposure and the mechanisms by which the organism expels, stores, or metabolically breaks down the contaminant. Other organisms, including humans that depend on shell fish or fin fish for food may also accumulate contaminants.
Public outrage over toxic sediment contamination was the catalyst for the creation of the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority in 1985 and the adoption of the Puget Sound National Estuary Program in 1988.
Beginning in the 1980's, scientists began to report that toxic marine sediments were causing diseases, like cancer and heavy metal toxicity, in fish, shellfish and humans who consumed sea food. Out of concern for public health and safety, state and county Public Health Departments began issuing warnings about consuming fish and shellfish from numerous contaminated sites. (But not Bellingham).
Public concern about the health effects of open water disposal sites led to the closure of about half of the disposal sites in Puget Sound. Only six open water disposal sites, including Bellingham Bay, remain open in the Puget Sound region today.
Nationally, state governments have closed open water disposal sites after testing revealed that open water disposal sites sites create new public health hazards. For example, sites have been closed in New York Harbor, Chesapeake Bay and the State of Maryland has banned open water disposal beginning in 2010. http://cedb.asce.org/cgi/WWWdisplay.cgi?0304797
Governor Granholm of Michigan signed an Executive Directive in 2004 prohibiting toxic material disposal in Michigan's waters.
But here in Bellingham, the city of subdued excitement, we are planning to allow the Port (with ecology's blessing) to dredge toxic marine sediment from a number of clean up sites and dump it right back into Bellingham Bay or the Rosario Open Water Disposal sites, without the benefit of aquatic confinement, protective skirting or capping.
Here's an interesting side note - the City of Bellingham, along with the Lummi Nation, submitted letters opposing the creation of an Open Water Disposal Site in Bellingham Bay in the 1980's due to concerns about public health...
Not one elected official (from the city, county, port or state) has raised questions about potential health consequences associated with open water disposal, despite the fact that this is an issue that has created significant public controversy across America, Canada and other nations.
We can not allow Bellingham Bay to be the dumping ground for toxic materials. The toxins contained in dredged sediment could pose significant health dangers to fish, other indigneous aquatic life, wildlife and human beings. Especially vulnerable are pregnant women, infants and small children.
We have an obligation (out of concern for our health and well being) to insist that toxic sediment is placed in confined aquatic disposal sites. Yes, it costs a little more. But - we're worth the expense.
In fact, state and federal government should place a cap over the 78,887 cubic yards of toxic marine sediment that has already been dumped in the Bellingham Bay site.
Why would anyone dump toxic sediment in a shallow bay - knowing that the contamination can be redistributed and threaten public health?
Washingtonians have always depended on natural resources from Puget Sound to fuel the economy. It is our responsibility as economic and environmental stewards of our future to take action to protect Bellingham Bay from additional toxic contamination.
Bellingham Bay Cleanup sites
Bellingham Bay Sites -- Updated April 2004
Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot -- Updated November 24, 2003
Central Waterfront Updated May 12, 2006
Cornwall Avenue -- Added September 28, 2004
Georgia Pacific Log Pond -- Updated May 2, 2006-->
Habitat Action Team -- Updated June 27, 2003
R. G. Haley -- Added July 21, 2004
Harris Avenue Shipyard -- Added June 10, 2003
Holly Street Landfill -- Updated September 2004
I & J Waterway -- Updated September 7, 2005
Little Squalicum Park -- Updated April 25, 2006
Weldcraft Steel & Marine -- Updated November 2006
Whatcom Waterway/Georgia-Pacific Site -- Updated September 20 2007
Exxon Mobil Oil Corp-Bellingham - Added January 7, 2004
Shell Multi-Site VCP -- November 17, 2008
Health Risks Associated with Toxic Marine Sediment: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=1412&page=155
Restoration Market place (Eagle Harbor, WA restoration results) http://www.restorationmarketplace.org/?id=114
John Dohrmann is a Technical and Policy Specialist with the Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team, responsible for a variety of issues, including sediment contamination. He has a bachelor's degree in fishery biology from New College and studied biological oceanography at the University of Washington.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
What is open water disposal? (See figure above).
Open-water disposal is a state and federal approved dredged material disposal program where dredged material is placed at designated sites in oceans, estuaries, (a bay may be a large estuary) rivers and lakes in a manner that dredged material is not isolated from the adjacent waters during placement. Placement is generally via release from pipelines, barges or hoppers. (Dredged Sediment is released into the environment from a pipe or by opening the bottom of a barge and allowing the material to drift down to the bottom).
Open water sites can be either dispersive or non-dispersive (retentive or non-retentive) depending on whether the sediment is transported out of the site or remains within the designated boundaries. Generally, clean or mildly contaminated sediments are disposed of in open water, although the disposal of highly contaminated material can also be considered with appropriate control measures.
Regardless of the type of in-water disposal, placing dredged materials in the aquatic area raises several key concerns, including sediment and water quality, sediment transport, water circulation, impacts to fisheries, and impacts to biological communities, especially endangered/threatened species.
Sediments placed in water must meet sediment quality regulations outlined in the Dredged Material Evaluation Framework. The majority of sediment disposed in the estuary's aquatic area consists of coarse, clean sand dredged from maintained navigation channels. This material must meet the water and sediment quality standards (SQS).
After sediment is placed in an open water disposal site, some or all of it is eventually transported to other areas, potentially resulting in adverse impacts to shallow productive areas and fishing areas, resulting in an increase in dredging requirements on other projects. (Creating a cycle of dredging and additional clean up).
The sediment transport patterns at in-water sites need to be assessed prior to disposal. Disposing of material in-water usually creates a mound or otherwise obstructs water flow. Consequently, water circulation patterns in the vicinity of the disposal site are altered. These changes can have detrimental effects. For instance, unexpected erosion or accretion can occur downstream from the disposal site. Conversely, the changes can sometimes be beneficial. For example, the scouring of the channel can be increased. In all cases, the potential effects that may result from circulation changes need to be assessed prior to undertaking disposal.
In-water disposal often results in the direct smothering of benthic organisms at the disposal site and indirect impacts to organisms living down current from the site. Disposal often impacts commercial fisheries by decreasing the size and depth of net drifts, potentially creating snags in fishing areas, and obstructing fishing access with dredging equipment.
As of 2003, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) biennial report states that 78,883 cubic yards of dredged material has been disposed at the Bellingham Bay open water disposal site. The USACE estimate that the site can absorb up to 181, 500 cubic yards over the next 50 years. The Bellingham Bay site was closed in the 1960’s, but re-opened in the 1980s. There is no record of the contaminants that were dumped during the 1950s and 60s. Nor has the site been monitored for contaminants since it was re-opened during the 1980s.
Who can use the site? We don’t have all of the answers, but in the I & J Waterway PSDDA Sediment Characterization Sampling and Analysis Plan, RETEC (Port of Bellinham Consultant) estimates that dredged materials that pass chemical and biological guidelines may be disposed of at the Rosario Straits dispersive site, or the Bellingham Bay non-dispersive open water disposal site as part of the proposed clean up project.
Additional information regarding the dredging of the I & J Waterway can be found on the Dept of Ecology website under the I & J Waterway PSDDA Characterization and Sampling Analysis Plan.
Hence, the Port of Bellingham plans to use the Bellingham Bay site, or the Rosario site to dispose of “low level” contaminated dredged materials from the I&J Waterway, the Whatcom Waterway and Squalicum Harbor clean up. All of the materials contain low to high levels of contaminants.
The Bellingham Bay disposal site has been used off an on since the 1960’s or earlier to dispose of contaminated sediments. Early dredged materials were not tested for contaminate levels prior to dumping. To date, the site has not undergone testing to determine toxicity levels or the suitability of the site for future dredged material disposal. Local tribes have long referred to the Bellingham Bay site as a dead zone for fishing.
The USACE publishes biannual DMMP reports on the Region 10 website. The reports are easily accessed through Ecology’s Aquatic Lands Cleanup webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. Click the DMMP Biennial Reports link under the “other links” heading and you will be taken to the Region 10 website with four DMMP reports for Puget Sound.
Again, there is very little information published on the Bellingham Bay open water disposal site.
To date, reports state that only partial monitoring studies have been completed for the Bellingham Bay Disposal site. The WA State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has recently placed Bellingham on a list of proposed open water disposal sites to be evaluated, tested and monitored over the next two years by a private consulting firm. By statutory requirement, DNR provides, manages, and monitors aquatic land disposal sites on state owned aquatic lands for materials dredged from rivers, harbors, and shipping lanes. Currently, permits to dispose dredged materials at the Bellingham Bay site are issued by the Army Corps of Engineers DMMP program. Federal law does not require publication of permits for open water disposal.Bellingham is one of twelve open water dredged material disposal sites in Washington. (Six are currently in use).
I have dozens of reports and studies on this topic, if anyone would like additional information. I can be reached by e-mail under the about me tab on the right hand side of the page. Please include an e-mail so I can send you PDF copies of the reports.
Links to other sediment management agency sites
US Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District Homepage
Dredged Material Management Office - US Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District
Dredged Material Management Program (DMMP)/Puget Sound Dredge Disposal Analysis (PSDDA) Clarification Papers
DMMP Biennial Reports
Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 Homepage
EPA Region 10 Sediment Links
Washington Department of Natural Resources Homepage
Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team Homepage
Puget Sound Protocols
Open Water Disposal Techniques (great pictures)
I&J Waterway document: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/sites/blhm_bay/sites/I_and_J_Waterway/I&J%20Seds%20RIFS%20App%20B%20Text.pdf
Michigan Governor bans open water disposal of certain chemicals in Lake Michigan
Erosion of Cohesive Dredged Material in
Open-Water Disposal Sites
Toxic Contaminants of Sediments in Puget Sound http://gbic.tamug.edu/gbeppubs/T3/gbnepT3_51-56.pdf
Applicable Washington Administrative Code authorizing open water disposal of dredged materials WAC 332-30-166
Friday, November 14, 2008
"Pollution from highways is complicated. Although a portion of some contaminants come directly from highways, roads act primarily as conduits for contaminated surface runoff to flow more quickly into Puget Sound."
Recently, the Washington State Department of Ecology released two new reports on human generated toxics and stormwater runoff from streets and highways.
For more information and to see full copies of the reports, visit Ecology’s Control of Toxic Chemicals website at www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/pstoxics/index.html
Document Downloads: http://www.psp.wa.gov/documents.php
Thursday, November 13, 2008
According to CreditSights, a research firm in New York and London, the U.S. government has put itself on the hook for some $5 trillion, so far, in an attempt to arrest a collapse of the financial system." Elizabeth Myer - Forbes Magazine
Entire article can be read here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27686586/
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Mr. Paxton filed his Hatch Act Complaint against Mayor Pike early last spring. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel conducted an 8 month investigation of the allegations and released their findings last week.
There are rumors circulating that Mr. Paxton has filed several complaints, as if pursuing campaign complaints against Mayor Pike has become an obsession of sorts.
Interesting rumor, but Mr. Paxton has only filed two campaign-related ethics complaints during the last year. One with the state Public Disclosure Commission alleging inappropriate use of public facilities and another with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel alleging multiple violations of the Hatch Act. (I doubt he spent more than four hours drafting either of the complaints).
Mayor Pike told Sam Taylor that he believes the complaints are related to a plan to undermine his reputation and hurt his chances for re-election.
Frankly, I've never met a politician who is as obsessed with his re-election as Mayor Pike. He's been discussing his re-election in the media since the first day he took office. (And, I've worked for four state legislators)!
For the record. I have excellent opposition research skills. If I truly wanted to "go after" Mayor Pike, I would be pouring over local legislation, city lawsuits and spending with a magnifying glass.
Opposition research is "issue oriented" not "campaign violation oriented."
I study campaign behavior because I believe it is a good indicator of a candidate's moral and ethical character.
Of course, I still have two whole years before I would have to get started with the opposition research...
Monday, November 10, 2008
According to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel - Dan Pike applied for the following federal grants and handled all necessary reporting (administrative) requirements. All grants are subject to Hatch Act restrictions on political activity.
1. Federal Highway Administration Grant
2. The Federal Transit Authority Grant
3. The Surface Transportation Program Grant
4. The North Sound Connecting Communities Project Grant
Additionally, Skagit Council of Governments received the Active Communities Environments Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during Mr. Pike's employment with SCOG.
Just for grins, Let's take a look at the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) Grant Certification and Assurances Document for 2006.
Page 7 contains language regarding Hatch Act requirements for grant recipient and employees:
15) To the extent applicable, will comply with the requirements of the Hatch Act, 5 U.S.C. 1501 through 1508 and 7324 through 7326, which limit the political activities of state and local agencies and their officers and employees whose primary employment activities are financed in whole or part with Federal funds including a Federal loan, grant agreement, or cooperative agreement except, in accordance with 49 U.S.C. 5307(k)(2) and 23 U.S.C. 142(g), the Hatch Act does not apply to a nonsupervisory employee of a public transportation system (or of any other agency or entity performing related functions) receiving FTA assistance to whom that Act does not otherwise apply;
Mayor Pike also worked for the Washington State Department of Transportation in Tacoma before he accepted a position as Transportation Director for Skagit Council of Governments. I'm confident that WSDOT has Hatch Act training for individuals who work with federal DOT grants.
Still think it's an obscure law?
Do a google search -- DOT Hatch Act --
Political Activities of Federal Employees
Need to know Hatch Act
DOT Travel Report
2003 Press Release
OSC brochure on State and Local Employee Hatch Act Restrictions
WA Attorney General Opinion