Urgent Action to Stop the Mega-jail


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

Recommended Actions for the Week of 20170605


Local Level Actions


National Level Actions / Other

From the Calendar


Every Monday: Attend a vigil hosted by C2C between 11:30a.m.-1:30p.m. or 5:00p.m. in front of City Hall. Show the powers that be that you stand by our undocumented workers and anyone else running afoul of ICE. Let the officials know it’s not alright to tear families apart!

Monday, June 5, 2017 at 7:00p.m.: Attend a Dignity Dialogue at the First Congregational Church, 2401 Cornwall Ave, Bellingham, WA 98225. This dialogue will look at the Illinois Trust Act Sanctuary Bill and what it took to pass it.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 6:30p.m.: Attend the Bellingham Racial Justice Coalition general meeting at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, 1207 Ellsworth Street, Bellingham, WA 98225. This month’s meeting takes a look at the early warning signs of fascism.

Thursday, June 8, 2017 at 6:00p.m.: Attend a Whatcom County Democratic Women’s club candidates forum at the Bellingham Public Library, 210 Central Ave., Bellingham, WA 98225.

Friday or Saturday, June 9 or 10, 2017: Watch for RC endorsements to be announced.

Next Tuesday, June 13th, the City of Bellingham will host a town hall meeting on housing.

ACTION ALERT: Protect our National Monuments: Keep it in the Ground!

Description: President Trump has ordered the Department of the Interior to review all designations of national monuments greater than 100,000 acres created since 1996.  Removing Monument protection will open the areas up to potential coal, oil and gas exploitation that would increase greenhouse gas emissions, hasten global warming, and cause untold harm to public health and safety, infrastructure and property, and ecosystems and species.

 This is the last week for comment: deadline is July 10, 2017.

Background:  On April 26, 2017, the White House issued a Presidential Executive Order on the Review of Designations under the Antiquities Act, directing the U.S. Department of the Interior to review certain National Monuments designated or expanded since 1996.  Removing protections will open monuments to coal, oil, and gas exploration, .  The Secretary of the Interior will use the review to determine whether each designation or expansion conforms to the policy stated in the Executive Order and to formulate recommendations for Presidential actions, legislative proposals, or other appropriate actions to carry out that policy.  The list of National Monuments under review can be found here.

Contact Information:  Submit comments online through regulations.gov (Docket ID# DOI-2017-0002).

Suggested Scripts:  Indivisible Washington Environment Network and others are sharing comments to inspire and inform your own.  Limited in time?  Use the generic script and submit for as many monuments as you can.  If you have more time, check out the aditional suggestions below.

Generic Script (adapted from several sources)

I oppose any effort to reduce the size of this National Monument.  Reducing National Monument protection will open the area to coal, oil, and gas exploration and exploitation, protracting the demise of an industry that has little future viability and delaying the transition to clean energy.  Considering the external costs of fossil fuel-based energy (associated with impacts to public health, property damage, and natural  resources provisioning), clean energy is safer, cheaper, and creates more jobs.

National monuments protect significant natural, cultural or scientific features for public benefit now and for future generations.  Commercial use of public lands costs the taxpayer without providing sufficient benefit, amounting to an enormous taxpayer subsidy to some of the richest corporations in the world.  Giving over more of our public lands for this purpose is not to the economic benefit of the American taxpayer—to say nothing of the cost of lost ecosystem services, and recreational, environmental, cultural, and scientific resources. 

Communities in the vicinity of National Monuments benefit from the tourism, outdoor recreation, and quality of life associated with healthy and protected public lands and waters. The Department of Interior would be hard-pressed to shrink, eliminate, or alter national monuments without undermining the very cultural and natural resources they seek to protect.

Please protect this National Monument. I am firmly opposed to any effort to revoke or diminish protections it, and I urge you to support our public lands and waters and recommend that our current national monuments remain protected.

Additional Script Inspiration

Modern Hiker

Nature Conservancy

Center for American Progress

Headwaters Economics

Indivisible WA Environment Network

Additional Information:

Whatcom Conservation District Board Supervisor Election: Candidate Information

Thank you for your interest in the Whatcom Conservation District Board Supervisor Election!  We contacted the three candidates and asked them to respond to the following questions:

  1. What background, experience, and skills do you bring to support the Whatcom Conservation District in its mission to assist land managers with their conservation choices?
  2. What do you think are the most pressing challenges facing farmers in their stewardship choices and how will you work with the District to address those challenges?
  3. What do you think are the best approaches to protecting and restoring habitat, instream flows and water quality for salmon, steelhead, shellfish, and other organisms?
  4. Describe your connections with the agricultural community in Whatcom County and how you will use those connections to support the District in their outreach efforts.
  5. What will be your top three priorities if elected?

Two candidates answered the call, and their responses are provided in their entirety below.  While we shall not be endorsing a candidate, we hope that these responses and the additional information linked below will inform your voting.  You may vote in person at the District’s office at 6975 Hannegan Road, Lynden, on 3/14/17, 9 am-6 pm.  If you received a ballot, you may deliver it to the District’s office by 6pm on election day, or mail it so it will be postmarked on day of election or sooner. Good luck to you!


RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS (Alphabetical by Last Name)

Heather Christianson

1. What background, experience, and skills do you bring to support the Whatcom Conservation District in its mission to assist land managers with their conservation choices?

Most of the work of the Whatcom Conservation District is accomplished through Federal and State grants. I have extensive knowledge in grant management having worked in both grantmaking and grant requesting organizations. I understand the importance of good grant management from both sides, and the necessity for thorough proposal reviews and measurable outcomes reporting to ensure proper and effective use of funding. I will help the Conservation District continue to work toward accomplishing their mission, and search for additional sources of revenue and programs to expand their work toward achieving their vision of a Whatcom County with healthy soils, water and air.

In addition, I have an in-depth understanding of board services. I currently serve on the Executive Board of the Whatcom County Democrats and chair the Finance Committee. I have also worked with many non-profit boards in a professional capacity. I strongly believe in the role of a board member as an advocate for the organization and its constituents. In that capacity, I believe it is important to help spread the message of the organization to networks beyond their reach. I have strong experience in advocacy having volunteered with local non-profits like Community to Community and with my union, Public School Employees. Through the role of advocate in the community, I will also be an active listener to the community, and will bring those thoughts to the table as a representative of this community in conservations strategies for a positive impact on Whatcom County’s water systems, natural resources, and wildlife habitats.

I also bring a wealth of diverse experience in event management from planning fundraisers to poetry slams to youth soccer tournaments, in program planning and implementation under funding constraints, in bridge-building between diverse communities, and in financial oversite and guidance. If elected to the Board of Supervisors, I will be able to offer my expertise to the staff for their various event and program work.

2.  What do you think are the most pressing challenges facing farmers in their stewardship choices and how will you work with the District to address those challenges?

The Whatcom Conservation District is in a unique position to be a partner with farmers in helping with stewardship choices. They offer cost-share programs that encourage farmers to adopt conservation strategies. These cost-sharing and financial assistance programs help tackle the very first barrier facing farmers, which is how to implement conservation strategies without having a negative impact on an often unreliable bottom line. Many factors have an influence on yearly profits for farmers and planning for lean years can be a top priority over implementing conservation programs. With the District’s funding, these financial barriers are mitigated to encourage farmer participation. In addition, finding the time to develop and implement these programs can be challenging. With the District’s staff of experts available to help farmers with their plans, the District is able to help overcome that challenge as well. As a non-regulatory entity, farmers can feel comfortable approaching the District for their services. And through the District’s outreach efforts, such as the Small Farmer Expo and the Farm Speaker Series, the District takes every opportunity to educate farmers on available conservation programs and provide financial incentives to implement those strategies. If elected, I will advocate for the continuation of these programs as well as search for further opportunities to expand the District’s impact in Whatcom County.

3.  What do you think are the best approaches to protecting and restoring habitat, instream flows and water quality for salmon, steelhead, shellfish, and other organisms?

There are many approaches to protecting and restoring habitat, instream flows and water quality for salmon, steelhead, shellfish and other organisms. These programs include watershed management, water quality protection and restoration, estuary and floodplain habitat restoration, shoreline protection, efficient irrigation systems, proper manure storage facilities, streambank restoration, manure application risk management systems, and many more. The Whatcom Conservation District, as well as the Washington State Conservation Commission, offer several programs to assist land managers in their conservation strategies to help in these efforts. The best approaches are the ones that land owners are willing to follow through with and opt-in to be part of the solution. Our district offers expertise, planning assistance and cost sharing programs that include fish barrier removal, livestock waste management, streambank stabilization, and salmon habitat conservation. Often these programs aren’t sought out until a problem has been identified. Through my service on the board, I will help the District to motivate land owners and land managers to be proactive in utilizing these programs throughout Whatcom County. The best approaches involve partnerships so that many stakeholders are involved and help keep each other accountable in our roles to protect and improve our natural resources. Our district has been a strong partner in this process, including winning an Environmental Excellence Award last November. Unfortunately, I believe we have reached a critical juncture in which not one strategy will be the best solution. That is why I will be an advocate for expanding the programs and impact of the Conservation District. While their current programs and partnerships have had a positive impact on our water systems, I don’t believe we can allow for the status quo to continue. Significant progress needs to be made now before the damage is too great to be restored or recovered.

4. Describe your connections with the agricultural community in Whatcom County and how you will use those connections to support the District in their outreach efforts.

I live in the small farmhouse my grandfather built with his father in 1933, and where I spent most afternoons working with my grandparents on their farm. Currently, we harvest an annual organic hay crop on our farmlands which is used as feed by various farmers in our community. This deeply personal and historical connection to Whatcom County contributes to my dedication to preserving what we value most about living in such a beautiful, community-minded area. The economic interests of our farmers are vital to our community’s health, as are the environmental conservation measures that help preserve what we love about our County. The outreach efforts of the District are important in educating farmers, as well as the general public, in what efforts we can all make to have a positive impact on the health of our water systems, natural resources, and wildlife habitats. While it is the farming community that is most significantly served by the District, the District offers programs for all land owners and land managers in Whatcom County, from in-school educational programs to land owner programs such as soil testing and firewise programs. I have comprehensive experience in outreach efforts and strategies through other nonprofit work and if elected, will bring that experience to the Board of Supervisors as an active member in our community.

5. What will be your top three priorities if elected?

Among my priorities, if elected, will include being a progressive voice for Whatcom County on the Conservation Board. I will be an advocate for our environment and for the best conservation practices that will have a significant impact on protecting and restoring our natural resources. Our farming economy is vital to our overall economy, but I will bring an open mind and fresh perspective for new ideas in the conservation field. A top priority will be to advocate for the best programs that utilize taxpayer dollars to have the highest impact on conservation in Whatcom County. For example, and another priority, will be the Conservation District’s role in water quantity for Whatcom County. While the District’s long ranch plan includes working to encourage widespread adoption of water conservation practices on working farms and ranches, I believe these practices will be essential in tackling Whatcom County’s ongoing and growing issue of water quantity. I will advocate that the District prioritize these programs, many of which are available through the Washington State Conservation Commission’s water conservation programs such as the Irrigation Efficiencies Grant Program which offers financial incentives for upgrading to more efficient, water-saving irrigation systems. This will be essential to ensuring available water for all users in the system as well as protecting salmon habitats in our river. I will also prioritize advocating for the District to explore innovative approaches to conservation. I appreciate the District’s lagoon pasteurization pilot project, which makes potable water from liquid manure, and I look forward to further exploring the viability of such programs for Whatcom County. If elected to the Board of Supervisors, I will bring an eager energy to exploring new programs and creative solutions for farmers and land managers in their conservation strategies. It is imperative that we make significant strides now to protect and restore the quality of our water systems, natural resources, and wildlife habitats, without having a detrimental impact on the viability or economic prosperity of our important farming community.

Suzzi Snydar

1.What background, experience, and skills do you bring to support the Whatcom Conservation District in its mission to assist land managers with their conservation choices?

As a woman involved actively in the Agriculture Community for over 20 years, I have hands on knowledge of farming the land as well as working closely with the Conservation District through the services they provide land owners. I have found it a productive ,amicable working relationship . The staff at the Conservation District are extremely knowledgeable in their area of expertise. I work well with others and have been involved in Whatcom County Farm Bureau as well as the Portage Bay Partnership. As the “stewardship” and “Manure Manager” for our family farm I have worked closely with the Conservation District , Department of Ecology and USDA. I am an Advocate for the work they do for our community. I have volunteered with countless groups and service organizations throughout the years . I have managed several businesses through out the years , and have overseen large groups of employees and volunteers .

2.What do you think are the most pressing challenges facing farmers in their stewardship choices and how will you work with the District to address those challenges? 

Ask three producers in the Agriculture community and you will get three different answers. For our farm I would Say the perpetual hoop jumping . Let me explain my answer in general terms . Four years ago (approximately) we were working towards a solution of an issue we had on our farm . Conservation District was spearheading the efforts and going through the process of the solution coming to fruition on our farm. The Conservation District Employees had a magnificent solution . Many government agencies were on board and had given their approval and support of the solution. Conservation District, Dept. of Ecology, USDA, Whatcom County. And then after many hours invested in getting to this solution — A single Government Agency says — NO. A singular Agency had the ability to completely keep the solution from being put into place.

So challenging to be part of the process working towards a great solution and have it all be for naught. The layers and layers of regulations across many different agencies that in many industries is repetitive and redundant. It is important that land owners understand that the Conservation District is there for them. They are effective and have access to great tools and clear science .

Late this spring we will begin a large project on our farm that the Conservation District , USDA and Ecology have all been part of . We are excited to break ground and see their hard work and planning on a project come to life.

3.What do you think are the best approaches to protecting and restoring habitat, instream flows and water quality for salmon, steelhead, shellfish, and other organisms?  

It is not my job to define these practices independently . As I am sure you are aware this is a complex and complicated issue that has been  tweaked by special interest groups and there is  significant misinformation in the press on these issues.  As a supervisor  I see my position as one  to allow the paid staff for the District to utilize their knowledge in these practices as they identify solutions and practices to be put into place by land owners. In my role as a Supervisor I will support their efforts ,ask questions ,and coordinate assistance as needed from other Agency’s and groups.

4. Describe your connections with the agricultural community in Whatcom County and how you will use those connections to support the District in their outreach efforts.

As a vocal advocate for Agriculture , it is my desire to raise awareness to land owners of the voluntary,incentive -based programs available that increase their stewardship of their land and natural resources. Our family farm is a signer and partner in the Portage Bay Partnership, this alone models that working together towards resolutions we can accomplish solutions for many . We are involved in Custom Harvesting forage for many farmers in our county. This puts me in contact with many farmers on a continual basis. As a rural land owner I and business owner I frequently interact with citizens who own parcels of land that could be served by conservation district if they needed services or advice on how to steward their land.

5. What will be your top three priorities if elected?

  • Advocate for Best Management Practices for our County. We in Whatcom County have been blessed with beautiful plentiful resources , that provide food, fiber and energy, It is my desire to protect their contributions to the local economy.
  • Encourage and work toward no net loss of farm land in Whatcom County.
  • BE a positive voice for the work that the Conservation District does.


Support Congressman Larsen’s bill on the National Security Council!

February 1st, Representative Rick Larsen is/was scheduled to introduce a bill which would make the Director of National Intelligence and the Joint Chiefs of Staff permanent members of the National Security Council. This is exactly the kind of bold leadership we want from our legislators!

Call Rick Larsen’s office:
Bellingham 360-733-4500
Everett 425-252-3188
DC (202) 225-2605

Talking Points:
1) You support Larsen’s bill to make the Director of National Intelligence and the Joint Chiefs of Staff permanent members of the National Security Council.
2) You do not agree with Bannon’s appointment to the National Security Council.
3) Thank Rick Larsen for his leadership in this issue.

Alternatively, if you cannot call, you can email his office on the contact us page here: https://larsen.house.gov/contact-rick

The bill does not have a name or a number yet. Representative Larsen tweeted about the bill:

This bill would make the Director of National Intelligence and the Joint Chief’s of Staff permanent members of the National Security Council.

Why this is important: Over the weekend, Donald Trump elevated Steve Bannon, a non-elected official with no military experience, to the National Security Council and made the Director of National Intelligence and Joint Chief’s of Staff optional to attend meetings.
The impact of this is to make the National Security Council more political and removes experienced voices of reason from this group.

Representative Larsen has released his ‘Dear Colleague’ letter to ask for support from his fellow House Representatives. Currently Representative Murphy is writing a similar bill. Both bills will go to committee – most likely the House Armed Services Committee which Larsen serves on. We will be able to see what the bill does tomorrow on this page: http://clerk.house.gov/floorsummary/floor.aspx

The National Security Council is committee is a Cabinet-level group of agencies focused on national security that was established by President George H. W. Bush in 1989. To date, every version of the Committee has included the Joint Chiefs chairman and the director of the CIA or, once it was established, the head of the Director of National Intelligence. Bannon’s appointment is a major break with tradition and makes a traditionally a-political committee extremely political. The National Security Council is run by National Security Adviser Michael Flynn who himself has had plenty of controversy of late, mostly involving ill-advised comments his son has made and his close ties with Russia and specifically Putin.


Weekly Action List for 20170130

Follow @wheresdoug42 on Twitter

Someone is undertaking to locate our 42nd district state senator and document his absence in Olympia.  Follow this twitter handle for updates.  https://twitter.com/wheresdoug42

Write a letter to the editor about Doug Ericksen jobs conflict

Constituents of Washington’s 42nd legislative district, our state senator has taken another job, but he is not resigning his senate seat, leaving us without representation in the senate.  We are orchestrating a letter to the editor avalanche.  Find all the information and talking points you need here:

Request a ballot for the Whatcom Conservation District board election

The Whatcom Conservation District is holding an election for a board member.  Our friend Kelly Krieger is running!  Ballots for this election are not automatically distributed, you must request a ballot before February 14th (or vote in person on March 14th).  Requesting a ballot is easy using their online form.  http://www.whatcomcd.org/board-elections

Bookmark this page for elected official contacts

Making phone calls to elected officials?  Here’s their contact information.  Let us know if we need to add anything to this.  https://riveterscollective.org/2017/01/elected-officials/

ACA Enrollment Deadline

If you need health insurance, the deadline to enroll in an ACA plan is JANUARY 31st!  https://www.healthcare.gov

Donate to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project

A local organization providing legal services and advocacy to immigrants in the northwest.
For a list of more resources and events: https://riveterscollective.org/2017/01/immigration-ban/

Bookmark our calendar for upcoming events.

We are drafting an even/action submission form, so if we have missed something you can let us know!  Use the drop-down arrow to the right of the Agenda tab to filter which calendars you want to view.

Step Two to Taking Action


Alright, so you’ve got your non-biased news sources and you’re keeping up with things- nice! Now it’s time for step two: homework.

I know, you already have a busy life, and you’ve just upped your news intake on top of that. The thing is, you won’t be able to make effective or meaningful actions until you fully understand the situation.

First, the basics.

  • Here’s a nice civics brush up.
  • These gamified civics lessons are aimed at students, but look like fun for any age. Bonus- they’re an initiative of retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
  • And here’s a handy post of our own about how the local Democratic party works.

Next, you might be wondering how this happened.

While we’re at it, we need to understand how to be better allies, too. Don’t forget the kids.

Putting a few of these books on reserve at the library is a great way to go. Get reading!

Missed step one? Read it here.

Ready for step three? Read it here.