COBPAC Resolving to Undermine Your Federal Vote

resolution approved There it is.  The City of Bellingham last night passed another resolution on a Federal  matter, thus continuing to assert themselves as one of our strong local Political Action Committees (PAC’s).   It’s one thing for a city council to pass resolutions regarding how they will and won’t conduct city affairs, but it is a PAC who resolves to oppose specific legislation or rulings on legislation such as the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC .  As I’ve said in the past, each person in this nation has elected representation in these Federal Issues and Bellingham City Council members are not them.   Even so, many people and groups know that the Bellingham City Council is ready, willing and able to be used as a tool for most any progressive cause.  In this case the progressive cause is beyond just the court decision and is both clearly pro-union and clearly anti-capitalism, which should read as socialism.

The basic Citizens United decision can be summarized as this:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC on Jan. 21, 2010, is having a profound effect on the laws governing corporate political activity in nearly half the states. The court ruled that the federal government may not prohibit direct corporate and union spending on advertising for candidates’ elections.

My personal position on this matter would have me going against this ruling which most say is conservative.   In a purest sense, I’d get behind an effort to allow only limited personal donations to campaigns and campaign advertising.  I think that would be even, fair, encourage candidates to stand on their own merit and I don’t really mind so much if that position carries a conservative or progressive label.   The problem with my position is that it is not supported by either the progressive or conservative camps.

The conservative camps seem to be rallying in favor of this ruling which would allow more wide open high dollar candidate support while the progressive camp is rallying against the “evil” corporate financial influence and holding their breath hoping that nobody notices that the ruling was aimed at unions as much as corporations.  And the progressive camp is right where the City of Bellingham has pitched their tent and is unrolling their sleeping bag.

"WHEREAS, several proposed amendments to the Constitution of the United States are being considered by the United States Congress that would allow the American people, by and through their democratically elected government, to limit the rights of corporations to unfairly influence elections.


That the City Council of the City of Bellingham hereby supports amending the United States Constitution to declare that corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of natural persons, and further to ensure that the expenditure of corporate money to influence the electoral process is no longer a form of constitutionally protected speech and may be subject to justifiable regulation for the common good, and the City Council calls on Congress to begin the process of amending the United States Constitution"

Proposed Resolution, Bill Number 19593, City of Bellingham

I know!  Where is the progressive COBPAC’s resolve that unions not “unfairly influence elections” and where is their declaration against union expenditures or unions assuming the rights of natural persons?   If the Citizens United ruling was so amazingly wrong, why is the COBPAC resolving to be outraged against corporations, but not unions?   Well you won’t hear an anti-union argument from progressives, because the outrage against the Citizens United decision is not about the rights of groups vs. individuals it’s about progressives silencing capitalist corporations leaving only unions to unfairly influence elections.

As I said above, I’d get behind an effort to allow only personal donations to campaigns.  But I’d only get behind that effort if the effort attacked unions, especially government unions, with the same vigor that they attack corporations.  Unions don’t qualify as people anymore than corporations.

Oh, and by the way City of Bellingham, when the Citizens United ruling refers to corporations they are referring to both non-profit as well as for profit corporations and so…well since 1904 you’ve actually been a corporation.  So I think, you as a corporation,  by passing this resolution, you’ve actually violated the spirit of your own resolution against corporate influence in elections and right about now your head should be exploding from circular logic.


Take home points:

  1. If you are anything but a raging progressive you should be outraged at the City of Bellingham.
  2. City of Bellingham is again acting as a de facto Political Action Committee.
  3. The City of Bellingham is again acting as de facto idiots.


Winking smile

Vote YES on Bellingham Initiative No. 2011-01

Some say that traffic cameras are about safety and other say they are about money.  Well at least for the Guide/Telegraph Road intersection near Bellis Fair Mall it is pretty clear now that it is all about the money.   A recent study by Gibson Traffic Consultants concluded the following:

Based on the 5-years of collision data obtained from WSDOT and the City of Bellingham; the collision data does not support the introduction of red-light cameras. Per the ITE collected statistics it only has the potential to reduce at angle red-light running collisions by a less than 1 per year but increase rear ends by an average of nearly 5 per year for this particular intersection.

With no fatalities or injuries related to the at angle collisions but 30 injuries related to rear end collisions it is anticipated that the proposed red-light camera would not reduce the collision/injury potential of the intersection and potentially increase the collision/injury potential at this particular location.

In this well traveled intersection, Red-Light Cameras are expected to increase the potential for injury, yet in an effort to raise revenue for the City of Bellingham, they are installing cameras in spite of making the intersection more dangerous.    You’d think that the City of Bellingham would have done this type of  study before they contracted to install red-light cameras, but they didn’t at this intersection, nor in any of the other areas slated for automated ticketing.

Indeed, the City of Bellingham has sold the safety of those who drive in and around their city in hopes of raising money to fill a budget shortfall.   The people of Bellingham have spoken in the form of petition, yet the Bellingham City Council and Mayor Pike ignored them and entered into a financial contract with ATS.

If you live in Bellingham then I urge you to vote YES on Initiative 2011-01.

Link to more information on the study and the problems with automated ticketing in Bellingham


Officer Camera

An article caught the other day brought to my attention once again, what a big mistake Bellingham made when it recently signed a contract to farm out a portion of local law enforcement to a private out of state company

When a Bellingham officer tried to pull a car over for a traffic violation on East Laurel Street about 8 p.m., the car took off. The officer turned on lights and sirens and began a chase…

After a couple of minutes the officer broke off the pursuit because of the increasing danger as the suspects sped through residential areas.   But while they broke off the pursuit, they didn’t stop the search for the suspects and eventually found them near their abandon car, where they also found bags of meth, crack cocaine and heroin.

Alan J. Nord, 24, was arrested on suspicion of attempting to elude police, drug possession with intent to deliver and driving with a suspended license.

feel lucky
I know what you're thinking. "Did he take six photos or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself, so you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

What a great example of why it is so valuable to have real police officers doing real police work.  I can’t help but wonder, if the original traffic violation had been observed by an Automated Ticket Machine, would Alan J. Nord be in custody at this moment and would the drugs be off the streets of Bellingham?  The obvious answer is No!

Officer Camera, no mater how sophisticated, isn’t going to hop off the light post and pursue the suspects across town until they eventually get their man.  Officer Camera is in fact going to remain seated on his light post, call ATS in Arizona and have them mail a fine out to the owner of the vehicle.  Which means that the would be captive suspect will remain free to deal his drugs and endanger the people of Bellingham.

Mayor Pike together with the Bellingham City Council made a very stupid move for a quick buck by off loading police work and your safety to automated cameras and out of state collection agencies.   There are only a couple of more weeks for Bellingham voters to sign a petition that will force the City of Bellingham to bring this situation in front of voters.  Check out the Transportation Safety Coalition’s website or visit them on Facebook for information about where to sign petitions.

Why the Nickel?

Bellingham City Council member Seth Fleetwood is bringing forth a proposed ordinance banning plastic shopping bags.   I haven’t read the actual proposal, but here’s a quick look from The News Tribune,

… a proposed city ordinance that would force retailers to stop offering plastic shopping bags to their customers within city limits. It also would require retailers to levy a 5-cent fee for every paper bag used by a customer.

The intent is to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags to carry out their purchases, not just at the grocery but at other stores, too.

“This is what people did for 10,000 years,” Fleetwood said. “They brought their bag to the market.”

I guess that it if a City Council member is bringing this up, he must feel there is a real good chance that this will be accepted by the people of Bellingham.    But why would they?   Is it that they are anti-litter/pollution, believe it is a danger to wildlife, or is it that they are pro-government intrusion into private matters?

No doubt these plastic shopping bags are a nuisance, litter and a blight on the countryside.  The last time I drove through the open country around Denver I noted how many “shopping bag” trees they had growing natively along the freeways.   It’s ugly there and its getting that way around here.  If the City of Bellingham or even Whatcom County looked at the litter and environmental damage caused by plastic shopping bags and simply banned them altogether, I’d say go for it.  I’d even blog in support of it.  A simple ban would be a simple solution that would be simple to enforce and fair and equitable in it’s effects.

But this proposed ordinance is not a simple ban on plastic bags and if you read the whole article you’ll see that it really is very complex with all kinds of exceptions and most probably an enforcement non-starter.  The nickel rather than the complexity though, is the tip off that there is so much more than simple when it comes to this proposed ordinance.

The other part of the ordinance is about behavior control.   Not only would this ordinance ban us from using plastic bags, it also demands that stores charge us a fee/fine to get us to change our behavior.  And change us not just away from plastic bags, but also away from paper bags and into reusable bags.   If this were simply about plastic bags there would be no nickel in the ordinance.   And if paper bags can also be shown to be detriment like plastic shopping bags, then why the nickel?  Why not ban paper bags also?   Yes, part of this ordinance is bags, but another part is government control.

The simple ban would leave store owners and customers as the deciders in this brave new plastic-bagless region.    Customers might choose paper bags, reusable bags, or no bags.   Stores might choose to fully charge for paper, discount paper, no paper only reusable, or even go all Costco on us and offer either a bare cart or a big ol’ mayo box.

I can’t support what I see in this ordinance because it goes beyond protecting our environment and right into more control of our day to day lives.