Wally Wonders Why No editor, no publisher, you get what you get

June 6, 2009

Sanctuary City?

jail1On Monday the City of Bellingham is hosting a public forum on the idea of designating Bellingham as a GI Sanctuary City. That is, they are asking that the COB pass an ordinance instructing Bellingham Police not to act on federal warrants for AWOL/Deserter members of our military. The first question that comes to mind is, should we as members of a participatory nation pick and choose which national rules we follow which we don’t? When and when not to participate? I don’t think we get to call ourselves part of this nation without a commitment to follow the rules set forth by the people of this nation. But I’ve asked these question of myself and the Bellingham City Council in the past and the COB still passed the Troops Home and No War with Iran resolutions. So asking the Bellingham City Council whether something is fundamentally wrong with the sanctuary city idea is kind of irrelevant; they don’t roll that way.

A quick parallel tangent; a few years ago Rep. Tancredo from Colorado convinced the House to amend Department of Homeland Security funding bill to withhold federal emergency services funding from cities that designate themselves as “sanctuary cities” for illegal aliens. Should we be asked to give up some of the rights and privileges of living in this nation when we refuse to acknowledge our responsibilities?

So right or wrong should definitely be part of the discussion, but in reality it seems to be irrelevant to the Bellingham City Council which leaves just with the question of whether or not they will eventually designate Bellingham as a sanctuary city for AWOL/deserters.

In early May, Sam Taylor ran a blog post about this upcoming news item. In his post he called the movement on their claim that the City Council was not going to address the sanctuary city issue because of budget issues.

That’s really not the only reason, not at all. In fact, I think only one City Council member, Jack Weiss, has said that about the issue. Other council members – a majority – have said they simply don’t support the idea of a Sanctuary City and they think it’d be going too far to not actively help out state and federal officials.

Terry Bornemann said he was supportive of the concept, but he – the main council supporter between the Troops Home! and Anti-Iran-War resolutions brought to him by the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center – won’t sponsor this one.

Herald blog 5/11/09

So it sounds like they don’t really have the support and the whole thing will just die… right?

Well no, it won’t. It won’t because the passionate supporters at Whatcom Peace and Justice Center won’t let it and in Mr. Bornemann, they have a tool on the council.  I feel his “supportive of the concept” and “won’t sponsor this one” are disingenuous to say the least. Only a week later he was a bit more frank with the Western Front.

He said he agrees with the ordinance and that it should not be the responsibility of the local police.

“I don’t know if it’s something we need to spend our resources on,” Bornemann said

Western Front, 5/19/09

Is there a difference between supporting a concept and agreeing with a specific ordinance put forth? You betcha there is. The difference is a plan, a plan on how to fold a concept into the reality that you agree with.  But I’m sure there isn’t a plan in play as  Councilman Bornemann seems to have been pretty clear that he won’t sponsor this one and we don’t need to spend our resources on this.  He even repeated it again only a few days ago.

City Councilman Terry Bornemann, who was the main sponsor for previous anti-war resolutions, said he has no intention of offering up a resolution for a council vote.

Bornemann said that the council has a role in facilitating discussions on issues, and that the sanctuary city idea, along with debate about the Iraq War, has been “volatile” in the community. Herald article, 6/4/09

See it again?

“no intention of offering up a resolution for a council vote.”

Gosh, no matter how many times he states this, I just can’t seem to believe it to be the truth. Perhaps I’m just a distrusting person, or perhaps it just doesn’t make sense to hold a public forum on an issue that has no support on the council, not even from Mr. Bornemann who agrees with the whole idea. So what’s with the whole public forum thing? To answer that you have only to look at these two bits of information

First bit:

Council member Terry Bornemann, sponsor of the troops home resolution and co-sponsor of the no war on Iran resolution, said he is willing to support the sanctuary ordinance, but the campaign needs to secure three other votes before it is brought before the council.

“I feel that if there is significant support then I will bring it forward to the council,” Bornemann said. “But the council needs to be convinced from the sanctuary movement, not just from me.” Western Front, 2/10/09

Second bit:

Terry Bornemann reported that he met with members of the GI Sanctuary City Movement and asked the Council how they felt about sponsoring a public meeting to discuss the issues. Barbara Ryan agreed with the idea of holding a public meeting but did felt that Council members should not lead the meeting or consider passing an ordinance at this meeting. COB minutes 5/18/09

The people of Bellingham are being worked. We are having this public forum because Terry Bornemann is executing a plan to change a concept he agrees with into a reality that the people of Bellingham have to live with. We aren’t having the discussion to enlighten the community, we are having it so that Mr. Bornmann and Nick Spring of GI Sanctuary City can flip a vote on the council.

Spring said the proposal has support from council members Jack Weiss, Terry Bornemann, and Barbara Ryan; Gene Knutson, Barry Buchanan and Louise Bjornson are considering it; and Stan Snapp is the only council member who has spoken against it. Western Front, 2/10/09

This discussion is not intended to enlighten the community, it is intended to get either Gene Knutson, Barry Buchanan or Louise Bjornson off the considering fence and onto the side of support. Again, the people of Bellingham are being worked and I for one am glad that people such as the Whatcom GOP led by Luanne Van Werven are presenting a reality check for the City of Bellingham.

A local peace activist organization is being allowed the venue of city property on Monday, June 8, to persuade Bellingham City Council members to pass an ordinance that would turn Bellingham into a haven for military deserters. If such an ordinance were passed, it would require law enforcement personnel to ignore federal warrants for extraditing deserters back to the military branch from which they are hiding.

Luanne Van Werven, Chair of Whatcom Republicans spoke against a sanctuary city ordinance, “It is disgraceful for Bellingham City Council members to consider providing special protection to those who have violated the military code of conduct. Supporting “sanctuary city” status would be an affront our current troops and past veterans.” Luanne Van Werven, WhatcomGOP

**  Also look for Luanne to be debating the issue on Fox and Friends at 5:45 AM on Monday morning and as a guest on 97.3 KIRO’s Dori Monson radio talk show on Monday at 1:00 PM.  **

I was at that GOP meeting when their resolution was passed and this issue is not one that local Republicans are on the fence about. And from reading the numerous comments on the Herald article, I’d have to say that the GOP is not going it alone on this one.  The repulsiveness of the sanctuary city concept crosses all party lines.  I’m sure Monday’s public forum will be a sight for sure. According the Bellingham Herald story the meeting is 7 p.m. Monday, June 8, at the Municipal Court building, 2014 C St.

Will public opposition and outcry at that meeting and in the news be enough to stop Terry Borneman, GI Sanctuary City and the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center from turning a part of Whatcom County into a safe haven for deserters? For sure there is going to be a more vocal push back for this issue than there was for the ill conceived Troops Home Resolution. Perhaps that will be enough.

Perhaps a yet unspoken wild card will have to call suit and change the face of the game.

Has anyone besides myself noticed a curious jumbling of the words ordinance and resolution? Like when TB said both that he had “no intention of offering up a resolution for a council vote” yet another time said he is “willing to support the sanctuary ordinance.” And did anyone notice that Barbara Ryan, noted as a supporter by Nick Spring and who seconded the idea for the meeting, said that “Council members should not lead the meeting or consider passing an ordinance at this meeting.” I liked the subtle differences in how they are presented to the reader, and I especially liked the way Barbara Ryan included “at this meeting” in her comment. Makes you wonder if they already have the other meeting scheduled, you know the meeting where they do pass the ordinance.

… Oh, yes the wild card… Dan Pike, mayor of Bellingham. He is the wild card because a city ordinance is quite different from a city council resolution. The Bellingham City Council can pass resolutions day in and day out, about countless meaningless things. There is no actionable item in a resolution. We resolve to not like the president! We resolve to appreciate ugly art! We resolve to not like potholes! However to get a city employee to either repair or not repair a pothole, you need an ordinance. The GI Santuary City Petition clearly reads that they are seeking an ordinance. And because an ordinance directs city resources the mayor gets to take a swing.

Every ordinance which passes the Council in order to become valid must be presented to the Mayor; if the Mayor approves it, the Mayor shall sign it and the ordinance shall become valid; but if not, the Mayor shall return it with written objections to the Council, and the Council shall cause the objections to be entered at large upon the journal and proceed to a reconsideration thereof.

If upon reconsideration, a majority plus one of the whole membership, voting upon a call of ayes and nays, favor its passage, the ordinance shall become valid notwithstanding the Mayor’s veto. If the Mayor fails for 10 days to either sign or veto an ordinance, it shall become valid notwithstanding the Mayor’s veto. The Mayor’s veto with respect to budget measures shall extend to specific items only, and not to the whole budget.

3.04 Ordinances–Regular

It will be quite interesting to hear where Mayor Pike stands on designating his city a safe haven for deserters.  If he is against an ordinance then Mr. Bornemann will have his work cut out for him corralling a majority plus one on his embarrassing side of the fence. On the other hand, if Mayor Pike is for an ordinance then an ordinance is what they will have.  However, he will also most probably loose so much public support that I don’t think he will risk coming out in support of an ordinance, even if that is the way he feels.  I don’t even believe that him settling on a wishy washy no teeth resolution will save him on the public support issue.

Here’s my bottom line.

I stand in opposition to either an ordinance or a resolution because I have respect and gratitude for the people who have served as well as those who still are serving our nation.  I stand in opposition to either an ordinance or a resolution because I feel it weakens the very heart of our nation when people (and cities) quit participating in our great nation, but rather opt out when a particular law doesn’t suit them.   That’s where I stand.

If you have a stand on this issue then let it be known to the Bellingham City Council and the Mayor.   And show up at the meeting, 7 p.m. Monday, June 8, at the Municipal Court building, 2014 C St.

And would someone ask the Mayor what his thoughts are on designating his city a safe haven for deserters?

November 15, 2008

All hail Paul Harvey

Filed under: Media Issue — Tags: , , , — wally @ 9:31 am

ode Hold on there; Paul Harvey didn’t get elected so why the hail?  Well why not?  He is the king; the king of looking for the rest of the story.  And darn it where would we be if we’d never heard that melodious phrase “and now here’s the rest of the story.”

When I pick up our paper, It would be helpful if there were  a little Paul Harvey running around the pages shouting out the rest of the story.  Thankfully there is no little gnome, as that would actually be scary, but neither is there, on many occasions,  the “rest of the story.”

Such was the case reading Local Iraq veterans discuss life after war in this mornings paper.  As the title indicates, the article covers a forum at WWU where Iraq veterans discuss life after war.

The veterans, English, Rick Lawson, Ash Woolson and Jared Gardner, discussed difficulties they face in receiving benefits from their service from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or, for some, overcoming post traumatic stress disorder.

Doris Kent, whose son, Jonathan Santos, died in Iraq, and Tiffany Schoessler, whose husband, Adam, is a veteran, discussed what is was like to go through life with a loved one serving in a combat zone.

Listening to those who have served is an invaluable experience and I almost feel it a duty for those of us who haven’t served in the military.  I’ve listened to many a relative’s story of WWII or Vietnam and only on occasion heard the troubling rest of the story.  I’d encourage people to listen intently to anyone who has or is serving; there always seems to be more to a story.

The story of this article is no different; there is a rest of the story.  And as the rest of the story unfolds, I should remind you that nothing past this point was available to the thousands of subscribers who only read the regular paper.

Sam Taylor had more of the story in a blog post which he describes as information coming from a group connected with the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center (WPJC).

Join a discussion with local veterans and those directly affected by the Iraq war, as they share stories of what it means to return after war time. The community is invited to an unbiased, depoliticized discussion around issues of what it means to be a returning soldier in the U.S., current V.A. treatment, and readjusting to civilian lives. This event is co-sponsored by Bellingham GI Sanctuary city, Social Issues Resource Center, Veterans Outreach Center, and Civil Controversy Series.

More towards the rest of the story, Sam has included the list of sponsors when he passed on the WPJC information for the event.  However, the real rest of the story lies deeper than just naming the sponsors.  The first sponsor is a likely candidate to look at for the rest of the story because, also in Sam’s blog post was information about a fundraiser for the group.

Join the Bellingham GI Sanctuary city campaign as we celebrate an evening to benefit war resisters in Bellingham. “The Desserter” is a gathering, party, dessert music show to support the campaign to make Bellingham a Sanctuary city for war resisters. Join us for an evening of celebration and conversation.

So the “unbiased, depoliticized discussion” the paper subscribers read about was actually sponsored by a group who wishes “to make Bellingham a Sanctuary city for war resisters” or as the WPJC referred to it in their newsletter, “support the campaign to make Bellingham a war resister friendly community.”

Here’s what the group says about themselves at GI Sanctuary City, Bellingham, WA.

The people of Bellingham are calling for an ordinance that will provide legal sanctuary for member s of the military who exercise their duty to object to an illegal war. To that end, we hope to have grassroots community effort to urge City Council to pass resolutions to not waste public funds on the arrest or detention of service members who are absent without leave.

Really?  The people of Bellingham are calling for this ordinance?  You’d think that’d be in the paper if it were the case.  So really, the supposedly innocuous “unbiased, depoliticized discussion” veils the rests of the story, which is the campaign by a few in Bellingham to see the city become a haven for AWOL soldiers.  And not just a place to gather covertly as it is right now, but they are asking Bellingham to ignore laws and not arrest or detain service members who are absent without leave.

Now you know the rest of the story, but what about the paper reading portion of the public?  Why did the Herald keep the rest of the story from them?   When will we hear the rest of the story?

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