Urgent Action to Stop the Mega-jail

Riveters!

This Monday the 19th at 7pm it is all hands on deck to ask the Bellingham City Council to vote NO on the Jail Facility Use Agreement*.

If the City Council says yes to funding the big jail, this will send a loud message that the City Council supports a mega-jail. We want them to represent our progressive values and say NO to the big jail because this is the wrong plan for our community.

Please attend the City Council meeting on Monday, June 19th at 7pm, sign in to speak during Open Session, and ask that they vote NO on the Agreement.  If you are unable to attend the meeting, scroll down for city email and phone info and contact them today.

*The Jail Funding Agreement states that the big jail (note: there’s been NO needs assessment to know how big it should be) will be funded with a regressive sales tax that will use 100% of the public safety sales tax capacity available to our community for the next 30 years. It details how the tax will be divided. 

You can view the funding agreement here: Interlocal Jail Facility Financing and Use Agreement. (Click on the “JFFUA” pdf on that page.)

 

What happens after the City Council votes NO?

This goes back to the County Council with a clear message that once again the City of Bellingham does NOT support a big jail in Ferndale. We then turn to the County Council and ask that they vote NO to putting this on the ballot. We can then step up to work with the councils on a solution that’s more fair, that isn’t a mega-jail in Ferndale and that prioritizes treatment over a huge building to lock people up.

 

Talking points

Please choose just one or two and add your own thoughts or story!

  • You are taking one of the last steps towards a mega-jail and it’s the wrong direction for Bellingham. This isn’t just about the funding or how the tax is divided, you’re taking a vote on the big jail. You have no other vote on the jail. This is it. Please vote no.
  • Are we really going to be the last community in America to build the mega-jail? Throughout the US incarceration is dropping and communities are rethinking this failed approach. While there are some who should be in jail, 73% of people in our jail haven’t been convicted. With work, such as the good work Bellingham has been doing, we can reduce incarceration.  
  • This jail proposal is $100-million. We can find a solution that doesn’t include a mega-jail and doesn’t take up all of our public safety tax capacity for the next 30 years. A new building won’t make our community safer.
  • Moving the jail to Ferndale removes a key part of Bellingham’s civic center and puts it in the Ferndale suburbs. This makes it harder for incarcerated individuals to meet with their attorneys, most of whom have offices near the current jail. It will increase the environmental impacts on our community when attorneys and inmates and staff drive back and forth.
  • The VERA Institute is completing a report to the Incarceration Task Force with recommendations to reduce how many people we jail in our community. Until that work is finished and implemented, we won’t know how big our jail should be. Please do not agree to fund the big jail without the data to know if we need it.
  • Our community should reconsider the Ferndale location and ask if the existing downtown Bellingham location might be better. That can only happen if you vote no on this funding agreement.
  • Bellingham has been moving in the right direction by aggressively reducing incarceration. I applaud that work! Please keep moving forward by voting NO on the big jail and this jail agreement.
  • We need to focus on services that will keep people out of jail such as treatment and other services. If we build a mega-jail our sheriff and judges will fill it and we will have less money for the treatment we know will both save money and make our community safer.
  • This proposal includes 36 ‘mental health beds’. But without a needs assessment we don’t know if that’s the right number or if the mentally ill should receive treatment inside the jail or outside, in a dedicated mental health facility.
  • We ask that you vote no on the Jail Funding Agreement and tell the County that this plan isn’t in the best interest of Bellingham.

Contact Information: If you are not able to attend and comment on Monday evening, contact the council today.

Email council at ccmail@cob.org, phone their office at (360) 778-8200, or give them a call:

  • April Barker, (360) 325-5128
  • Gene Knutson, (360) 734-4686
  • Dan Hammill, (360) 778-8213
  • Pinky Vargas, (360) 778-8210
  • Terry Bornemann, (360) 305-0606
  • Michael Lilliquist, (360) 778-8212
  • Roxanne Murphy, (360) 778-8211

Step Three to Taking Action

Now you are informed and ready- time to act! Your best two tactics are your money and your time. Let’s talk $$.

Photo by Newton Free Library on flickr. Used under Creative Commons license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

First, donations.

There are a bajillion organizations working to do good. Many run on donations. It can be hard to figure out who to donate to. What do you care about? Which organizations are legit? How much money? How often? What about local groups vs. national organizations?

Narrow it down
This might be difficult. Many of us care about all of it- the environment, women’s rights, healthcare, LGBTQ rights, etc. Try picking your top three issues and start with those. Maybe even make a calendar where you focus on different issues each month or quarter.
This is a good list of ideas (check the comments, too): http://jezebel.com/a-list-of-pro-wo…

Find legitimate organizations
Charity Navigator is a great tool to help you decide who will use your donation effectively.

Every bit helps
If you only have a few bucks to spare and are wondering if it’s even worth donating that much, know that it DOES HELP. We are working on a scale of millions of people making donations. A buck or two adds up.

If you can swing an automatic monthly donation, go for it.

Think globally, act locally (and nationally and globally)
Don’t forget about your hometown organizations. You can often have the most impact with these small fish. Use our Civic Tithing tool to help find local organizations and set up monthly donations. Also, Charity Navigator has a rich search function, including a way to look for local charities: https://www.charitynavigator.org/in…

 

It’s also time to boycott

You can also make a difference with your everyday spending habits.

Anti-Trump
You can choose to spend your money at places that do not support Trump or his family’s businesses. Shannon Coulter started the #grabyourwallet boycott in late October. Here is the current list of business to boycott, scripts to use to tell them why you’re boycotting, and alternative businesses to use instead: https://grabyourwallet.org/

Pro-justice
You can also sign up to participate in the Injustice Boycott, which began last December. This boycott is about preventing police brutality and racial injustice.
Do you know of any other current boycotts?

That’s your first action: donate and spend wisely. Next up, how to use your time to make a difference.

Missed step two? Read it here.

Ready for step four? Read it here.

Take action:

Civic Tithing

Civic tithing can stabilize funding for our local organizations in an uncertain economic future. And that future will arrive on January 20. From the Old English for “one-tenth”, tithing has traditionally meant giving part of one’s income to a church or government. In civic tithing, we take the routine giving concept and apply it to civic and community organizations in Whatcom County. Together, our group could improve and stabilize the financial outlook for organizations serving our community in 2017.

First, decide how much of your income you could part with on a monthly or yearly basis, whether 0.1% or 10%. Take the annual cost and divide by 12. Then set up monthly donations to an organization in that amount.

To help you identify organizations, a few Pantsuit Bellingham members curated this list for us. Improvements to this list and tool are coming, but we’re pushing this in draft form so you can start using it now. You can search by topic; that’s pretty much the only bell or whistle.

Please note: As always, we welcome your constructive feedback (especially if it is packaged with an offer of help in improving the online accessibility of this list)!

Take action:
How much $/month are you pledging to donate to these groups? Enter the monthly total in the box. Your response is ANONYMOUS and will help Pantsuit Bellingham demonstrate our people power!

Womxn’s Marches – Bellingham, Seattle, DC


We’re getting a lot of questions about the Women’s Marches.  Here are links to information for marches in Bellingham, Seattle and DC.

Womxn’s March on Washington – Bellingham

Event Information
Website
Facebook page
Facebook event

 

Womxn’s March – Washington State – Seattle

Event Information
Website
Facebook group
Facebook event

Transportation
Our bus is full, and there are at least three buses departing from Bellingham for the march.  I will update this as I get new information.  If you don’t have a ticket and you want one, watch the Pantsuit Bellingham Facebook feed and then bus event closely, I have seen several posts selling tickets in the past couple of days.

If you purchased a bus ticket through Pantsuit Bellingham and Bellair Charters, your bus departure information:
Sunset Square Kmart parking lot at 7a.m. on 21 January 2017.
Join the Facebook Event for some pre-march pep-talking and organizing.

If you have a ticket for a bus chartered by Whatcom Democratic Women’s Club, event details can be found here:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/womens-march-charter-bus-round-trip-bellingham-tickets-30571121046

 

Women’s March on Washington – D.C.

Event Information
Website
Facebook page