Saturday, October 31, 2009

Unduly Burdened By B.I.A. Bullshit

I ran across an article written by Bill Quehrn - Executive Officer, Building Industry Association of Whatcom County. The title of the article is "Those Unduly Burdened, Rise and Fight!". The article lays out some inaccurate and misleading arguments about "takings" and then concludes, "However, recent actions by county government strongly suggest that it is time individual citizens … and even our county’s small towns and other municipal jurisdictions … start reminding Whatcom County’s elected and appointed officials that they will not be “taking” this kind of burdensome abuse or disregard of our Home Rule Charter any longer. It’s time to rise up and fight! CAPR’s time certainly seems to have come!"

I was going to write something to expose just how dishonest and deceptive the Executive Officer of the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County was being, but then I realized someone else had laid out the way developers and large real estate speculators have heightened fears and exacerbate problems to recruit the very rural people they'd like to displace by suburbanizing all of our rural areas.

Fourteen years ago, Jay Tabor wrote a report, "Wise Use in Northern Puget Sound" that covers what BIAWC, CAPR and the developers and large real estate speculators behind them are trying to do... AGAIN!

... Movements are defined by the shared values of followers. These values are not the normative values of society but rather the values of a loosely linked sector of society in opposition to an establishment. The most commonly shared value of the Wise Use groups is their determination overturn or weaken environmental laws and open up public and private lands for unrestricted development and exploitation.

The Wise Use Movement is riddled with contradictions. The different levels of the movement have goals directly in conflict with each other. For example, many of the people that are attracted to the property rights and county secession groups in the western Cascade foothills are drawn by slogans such as "Protect Our Rural Heritage" and "Lower Taxes." The middle level organizers of these groups are mostly developers and large real estate speculators who want to suburbanize these areas. Not only will this remove the rural character, but the added long term infrastructure costs will inevitably raise property tax assessments and revenue budgets. Likewise, out on the Olympic Peninsula, the large timber corporations exporting raw logs played a far greater role in closing the small mills than environmental regulations.

It is the hallmark of Wise Use to play on these tensions, heighten the fears and exacerbate the problems. The aggressive scapegoating of regulations and targeting of environmental activists for hostility serves to provide a distraction from the contradictions. In full cry, the Wise Use activists often succeed in suppressing or intimidating any opposition, thereby preventing the open discussion that would lead to the exposure of their hollow program. ...

Not just the property rights movement is a rerun, the mis-use of "takings" claims as a tactic is being trotted out AGAIN.
Appendix I:
The Growth Management Act and "takings" claims

One of the major thrusts of the Growth Management Act was the imposition of "impact fees" that would make developers directly responsible for the infrastructure
costs of new construction. A major tax subsidy for development and land speculation was threatened. If developers couldn't buy cheap land, put up large projects that counties hadn't included in the long-term budget forecasts, and then stick the taxpayers with the tab, a whole industry would have to restructure itself around the real cost of doing business. Suddenly, Wise Use in Washington discovered the "property-rights" movement.

It was a marriage made in hell, but the happy couple of rural people and city-based developers were willing to overlook that. It was also a godsend to Gottlieb's faction of
the Wise Use Movement. Gottlieb and Arnold had failed to cash in on the big bucks now flowing from timber, mining and other industries to Wise Use operations like People For the West!, the Blue Ribbon Coalition, Putting People First, and Alliance for America. The Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise was handed a literally golden opportunity with the advent of land-use planning laws like the Growth Management Act.

The key to the development industry's agenda and a mainstay issue for many of the property rights groups that the industry created is the issue of "takings." The phrase has all sorts of resonances, since it implies expropriation. Many of the Wise Use participants share the right-wing belief that rights are a dispensation granted by the
powerful. This is most clearly seen in the oft-repeated catch-phrase, "they are taking our rights." The takings issue was first set forth by economist Richard Epstein. The use of the work "taking" comes from the Fifth Amendment in the Bill of Rights, which states in part, "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation." Epstein argues that most regulatory actions are a "taking" and thus require compensation.

The notion of easy money from the government has great appeal. Chuck Cushman frequently leads crowds in chanting, "Compensation. Compensation. Compensation." The phrase "property rights" has become a codeword for the takings issue. The issues that property rights groups put forward often revolve around the issue of paying compensation to anyone who complies with a regulation under protest. The alternative to payment is to waive the regulation. This is actually the agenda for industry; they have found an argument by which the government must either pay the cost of regulatory compliance or forgo the regulation. In law, the practice is usually called extortion.


So... while Querhn has been writing fear-mongering articles about "takings", he has also been, quite cynically, telling the Bellingham Herald: “The first thing I would ask them is to find anywhere in the public record where the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County has made any kind of suggestion that paving the county would be the appropriate thing to do,” he said. “You ain’t gonna find it.”

Well gee Bill... just because we "ain’t gonna find it" "in the public record" doesn't mean we ain't on to you.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wise Words from Digby

Wise words and penetrating analysis from Digby: "... the Republicans have managed to rebrand themselves from an epic screw-up party to a batshit crazy party ..."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Whatcom County Election - Mayors Endorsement?!?

I was surprised that the small city mayors joined together to endorsed the (Republican recruited) conservative candidates.

So I decided to look a little deeper into the endorsement.

What my sources told me, was that the small city (Blaine, Ferndale, Lynden, Everson, Nooksack & Sumas) Mayors are mad about the Urban Growth Area (UGA) update process and decided to "send a message". The Mayors aren't so much in favor of the conservative county council candidates as they are angry at Carl Weimer, Laurie Caskey-Schreiber and Ken Mann.

I can appreciate that the small city Mayors have, what they see as, their city's interests to look out for, but as one of Whatcom County's rural residents who has no local government other than the County Government, I really don't appreciate them trying to swing the County Council race just because they didn't get their way on one issue.

The small city Mayors did not meet as a group and interview the conservative candidates. I was also told that the conservative candidates weren't seen as being up to speed on local issues. As a matter of fact, one of the Mayors admitted to having met only one of the conservative candidates, briefly, and not having been impressed, that candidate was described as "well meaning, but..."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Net Neutrality Could Be In Danger

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has introduced something called the “Internet Freedom Act.” The legislation would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from enacting Net Neutrality rules to making sure that Internet service providers don’t create a pay-for-play system where they could selectively block or slow content and applications.

Telecoms largely support blocking net neutrality rules, and McCain is a long-time friend of these businesses. McCain was the top recipient of campaign contributions from the telecom industry, taking in $894,379 in the past two years.

"Whenever there's a fight on the Internet, it's always good to side with the geeks who built the Internet, rather than the fat-cat telecom lobbyists."

Rachel Maddow has the details:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Public Option Is The Compromise

Darcy Burner on ABC News Now's TopLine: "If [Obama] wants the bill to pass, it's going to have to include a public option.

Progressive Change Campaign Committee PAC (

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rethink Afghanistan

I just saw the film Rethink Afghanistan with a small group of other humans. There is absolutely nothing to be accomplished there with more military engagement. I am unclear what our military occupation has ever been about. Only a humanitarian mission could improve anything for the humans in Afghanistan. I guess you could make a case for an international law enforcement mission if it was the instigator of 911 you wanted. Hard to make that case in light of the fact that Osama was offered and our government refused him.

We should immediately cease funding the military industrial complex. I was horrified at the inhumanity we are visiting on the humans in this part of the world. Only when begin to show concern for the humans who live where earth’s natural resources and the routes to bring them to us are located, will we give the humans everywhere a chance to continue life on earth. This is the legacy I hope to leave for those who come after. If we don’t learn how to life within our means, no one, including our children and grandchildren, will enjoy life on earth. Considering that we are 4% of the world’s population, using 25% of the planet’s resources, we have an opportunity to really make a difference.

If we stop using earth’s dwindling resources to fight over earth’s dwindling resources and build infrastructure we can pass on the legacy of a good life on earth. The humans in Afghanistan want the same things as we do. They love their families just like we do. The images in this movie are heartbreaking. And the fact that my tax money is funding this congressional military industrial complex adventure is abhorrent.

thank you, Rebekah, our Bellingham Code Pink , for showing this film.

sign to demand civilian solutions for Afghanistan here

I include this 10 minute segment from the film that addresses the plight of women in Afghanistan. If you watched corporate media during our occupation you would believe the myth that freedom is on the march and women are enjoying their lives as never before.

Bombs will kill women in Afghanistan
Posted by robertgreenwald on July 8th, 2009
Self immolation is a method of suicide by lighting oneself on fire. According to the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, self immolation has never been such an epidemic in Afghanistan as it is today. This is one fact that leads people to the sobering reality that our efforts in Afghanistan have done nothing for the vast majority of women there.

full post here

Friday, October 09, 2009

Vote Yes - Whatcom library proposition 1

Some details about the Whatcom Library levy on the November 2009 ballot. For more info please visit

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Whatcom County Elections - Have You Noticed - #2

Have you noticed the Letters To The Editor, supporting the "conservative" candidates, from people in the land development business who want to "take back our county"?

I didn't know the county belonged to the Realtors & Building Industry associations, did you?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Whatcom County Elections - Have You Noticed - #1

Have you noticed that all the "conservative" candidates yard signs seem to be planted on the public right-of-way in front of vacant property?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Sanders Unfiltered

Senator Sanders makes a lot of sense... and every time he talks, you can hear the ditto-heads exploding in the background.

Senator Sanders and Michael Moore

Get weekly Sanders Unfiltered delivered to you on Facebook, email, Twitter, or podcast. Go to And, be part of Senator Sanders weekly show. Submit your video question using YouTube, then post it as a video response!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

"We need Democrats with guts."

Rep. Alan Grayson discusses the Republican health care plan and GOP charges about him with Ed Schultz on Oct 1, 2009.

If you're impressed with his guts, throw in a few bucks to support Alan Grayson's campaign for re-election in 2010. It's a good way to let him and other Congressional Democrats know that standing up for progressive values pays off.