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

August 29, 2012

Is it Money or What?

bnsfCheck Below for recent Updates


Original Post from July 31, 2012

It’s got to be something that keeps the Bellingham Herald referring to the City of Bellingham Initiative No. 2012-2 concerning the people’s right of self-government as “coal train initiative” or the “No Coal! initiative” as they just did in their article BNSF joins legal case against Bellingham coal train initiative.

John Stark wrote that article and another article last month where he also referred to the initiative as the “no-coal-train initiative” and “Coal-Free Bellingham initiative” so perhaps the money or what could be a John Stark bias?  Maybe?  Maybe the Herald stands to lose a little advertising revenue from irate hamsters if they actually call the initiative for what it is; a proposal to radically depart from our normal way of governing.

So is it money or what?  I don’t really know, but as long as the local media keeps failing in their duty to the public and keeps playing into the hands of the Bellingham Bill of Rights folks, the dollars to sort out the mess is going to keep adding up for we the taxpayers.  On the other hand, if the Herald actually served their readers with untainted information, this initiative would likely die a sudden death from lack of public support.  Instead, this initiative drive enjoys continued wide public support because the Herald and the Bellingham Bill of Rights people continue to widely market this as a no coal initiative.

What?  You still believe this is about coal trains running through Bellingham?  Sorry, but you’re among those who have been mislead.  If this were just about coal trains running through Bellingham then the initiative might read something like this,

City of Bellingham Initiative No. 2012-2 prohibits railroads from transporting coal in the City.
“Should this measure be enacted into law?” Yes?______ No?______

Instead the initiative actually reads like this,

exact language

That’s right a true anti-coal train initiative would have one point, banning coal trains, but this initiative has about 10 points with only one of them being the transport of coal.

  1. concerns the people’s right of self-government
  2. This measure would establish the sovereignty of Bellingham residents
  3. the rights of natural communities
  4. rights to a sustainable energy future and a healthy climate;
  5. prohibit corporations from transporting coal in the City;
  6. deny legal personhood and constitutional rights to corporate violators
  7. deny the use of federal and state preemptive law to corporate violators;
  8. deny the validity of contrary permits;
  9. authorize private party civil enforcement actions
  10. repeal all inconsistent provisions of existing City ordinances


So if transporting coal is only one of ten points, then why doesn’t the Herald refer to this initiative by one of the other nine points like the Bellingham Sovereignty Initiative, Right to Sustainable Energy Future Initiative, or the People’s Right to Self-Government Initiative?   Again, I don’t know if it is it money or what?

What?  Even after reading the initiative, you still don’t believe that this isn’t about coal trains?  Would you believe it if you heard it straight from the horses mouth?  You can if you want.  In fact Stoney Bird, a retired corporate lawyer on the steering committee for Coal Free Bellingham, who is proposing the initiative, was just on The Joe Show earlier in the week.  Among much legal ramblings and rantings he had these telling words.

And I’m really optomistic about its getting on the ballot, the cities claims against this initiative really focus on one part of the initiative which is the ban on coal trains, there’s much more in it, the whole Bill of Rights, is is goes beyond that.

if you look at it, what,  the core of this initiative is the bill of rights

Stoney Bird  – KGMI Podcasts – The Joe Show 7/30/12

So if both the initiative and it’s authors say this isn’t about coal, then why does the Bellingham Herald?   Is it Money or What?  Who are they beholding to?

Update for August 4th

And they”re still at it.  Judge Snyder reinforced that the initiative is about restructuring government, rather than about banning coal transport, when he ruled that the initiative cannot be put on the ballot because the "initiative exceeded the scope of city government’s power and would have, among other things, attempted to nullify state and federal laws." Yet the Bellingham Herald still headlined this as an "Anti-coal initiative" and described it as an "initiative that would have blocked the transport of coal through Bellingham will not be on the November ballot in Whatcom County."

Update for August 6th,

Which Bellingham Herald poll results will they go with?  Will they use the set of results you see after you take the poll? Or will they use the set of results you see when you click “See how you Compare” link?  The first shows more city residents supporting the initiative while the second shows an opposite result with more city residents opposing.


Updated again for August 6th,

Listened to Natalie McClendon on the 8/6/12Joe Show podcast this afternoon and when Joe asked her what she thought of the Initiative/Bellingham Bill of Rights, she responded that her first impression had been that she was reading a declaration of independence.  As Joe chuckled he threw in a secessionist comment that went along the line of if Texas can secede the why not Bellingham.  The point of this is that the initiative and the Bellingham Bill of Rights are also recognized by former chair of Whatcom Democrats and local progress talk show host as not really about Coal, so why doesn’t the Bellingham Herald?  Is it Money or What?

Updated one more time on August 16th

and one more time

The Herald Politics Blog titles a post Rally planned for August 31 in favor of public vote on anti-coal-train initiative giving us yet one more example of misrepresenting the initiative to the people as a Coal issue.  Don’t bother to think about this being put on by the local Socialist Alternative group, the Bellingham Bill of Rights people still calling themselves Coal Free Bellingham in spite themselves saying this is not about coal, and Decolonize Whatcom who are really the ReOccupy crowd which I believe gave us the guy who disrupted the County council meeting with a mic check.


And yet another update on August 17th.  Wow has it been only one day?

down to the wire 

It took just one more day/article for the Herald to refer to the Bellingham Bill of Rights initiative as the “no-coal measure” and the “no-coal-train initiative.”   The article State appeals court to hear Bellingham no-coal measure continues the push to get the measure on the ballot as some kind of popularity poll.  Although the results of the poll would be inaccurate because with the efforts of the group and the Herald, people believe they are voting against coal trains when they are in fact voting against our proven system of government.

"The point is to get (the no-coal initiative) on the ballot, and then the powers that be begin to understand where the wind’s blowing," Bird said.

The “powers that be” (and I hate that lame cop out phrase) are all the voters in our state and nation.  That includes the people of Bellingham, but they are a small minority of the people of Washington and the people of the US. who actually are in control of transport of goods (coal and otherwise).   It’s in our US Constitution.  it’s Article1, Section 8, Clause 3.  It’s called the Commerce Clause because it reserves for the federal government, exclusive power over trade between states, foreign nations and Indian tribes.  We the people of the United States are the “powers that be” to which Stoney Bird refers.  The people of Bellingham have the same rights, the same representation, and the same power as anyone else in out nation to control the flow of coal trains.  I don’t know what the Bellingham Herald hopes to gain by conspiring with Stoney Bird’s separatists to take rights, representation and power from US citizens, but making enemies is no way to sell papers.


It’s Official!  One more headline on August 28th claiming this initiative to be about coal trains.

Capture it is official I won’t deny that in another portion of the article they did refer to this as also about the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights, but the headline and opening sentence are what they are, which is deceptive regarding the true nature of the initiative. 


Place Holder for next Update about the Herald referring to this as a Coal thing

March 11, 2012

Bellingham Secessionist Movement

ConFlagThey call themselves Coal Free Bellingham, but such a benign name doesn’t accurately describe the motivations behind what they call their Bellingham Community Bill of Rights.   Coal though, is the big topic of discussion in the Bellingham/Whatcom are and those promoting this Bellingham Community Bill of Rights are capitalizing on local anti-coal sentiment by using it as a vehicle to change the way our local, state and national governments work together.  In fact, as you will see they are not just advocating a new working relationship, they are actually trying to opt out of our system of governance and attempting to establish their own new system of governance.

The opening statement on the Coal Free Bellingham website is the tip off to their true intentions.  It fails to mention burning coal, transporting coal by train, the proposed coal port, or even any mention of coal at all.

More people are becoming aware that the promise of an American democratic republic is not being met. Instead of government “of the people, by the people, and for the people”, we have government “of corporations, by corporations and for corporations”.

Coal Free Bellingham

So it doesn’t mention coal at all, but what this statement does mention is that they feel that our democratic republic is not working because the balance of power has shifted away from the people and towards corporations.   Interestingly, I am in complete agreement with what they say about corporate power and I’d even take it one step further by throwing in unions, especially public employee unions.  I honestly and wholeheartedly agree that the balance of power has shifted away from the people and it is a big problem in our nation today.  However, I believe that we need to stick together and work together to fix the problem, but by reading their proposed Bill of Rights Ordinance, I see that they think the solution is to opt out and start their own government.

City of Bellingham Initiative No. 2012-2 concerns the people’s right of self-government. This measure would establish the sovereignty of Bellingham residents,

I’m in the middle of reading Killing Lincoln, so that other period in our nation’s history where a group of people felt they had to break off and establish their sovereignty is pretty fresh in my mind.   At that time slavery abolitionists were gaining power in our nation.  The people of the Southern states, rather than continuing to work for a solution, decided to secede, or opt out, from the United States and establish a their own new system of government.    And like coal is the vehicle for the Bellingham secessionist movement, slavery was the vehicle for the Southern States secessionist movement.  This is plainly evident when you look at some of the language used in the states’ Ordinances of Secession with with references to “slavery” removed.

…is hereby dissolved, and that the State of North Carolina is in full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State.

…Federal Government has failed to accomplish the purposes of the compact of union between these States

State of Louisiana hereby resumes all rights and powers heretofore delegated to the Government of the United States of America…she is in full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty

We, the people of the State of Tennessee, waiving any expression of opinion as to the abstract doctrine of secession, but asserting the right, as a free and independent people, to alter, reform, or abolish our form of government in such manner as we think proper…

…declare that the people are thereby absolved from all allegiance to said government, and that they have a right to establish any government which to them may seem best adapted to the preservation of their rights and liberties.

And they do further declare, That said Constitution of the United States of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.

…and to longer submit to such rule, or remain in the old Union of the United States…

And if you remove any mention of “coal” from the proposed Bellingham Community Bill of Rights Ordinance it is plainly obvious that this is also ultimately about secession.

… concerns the people’s right of self-government. This measure would establish the sovereignty of Bellingham residents,

…adoption of this ordinance by the people of Bellingham is a necessary first step

…whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…

…the people of Bellingham desire to restore a balanced and democratic system of government

…the State of Washington and the United States have failed to act in accordance with the public trust, and the people of Bellingham find it necessary to act on their own behalf

…the people of Bellingham… by creating a new structure of law…

…that new structure of law is embodied in this ordinance, which recognizes a Bill of Rights for the residents…

I think you’d agree that the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights Ordinance could have been titled the Bellingham Secession Ordinance without changing much, if any, of the content.   I found it ironic that the Coal Free Bellingham people used the words, “of the people, by the people, and for the people”  in their introduction, because if you read the full quote which is from President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address you’d see he meant it to say that we need to fight tooth, nail and Civil War to keep our nation as one, so that it “shall not perish from the earth”.

— that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

President Abraham Lincoln
Gettysburg, PA
November 19, 1863

Our laws bind us and strengthen us together as a nation, as States, as Counties, as Cities and as a People. This movement isn’t about coal, the Bellingham Bill of Rights is about tearing at the very fabric that holds our nation together.   I urge everyone, Bellingham resident or not, to oppose any advancement or support for this ill conceived and very dangerous document.


Links to further information

Activists start gathering signatures in hopes of banning coal trains in Bellingham – Yes, this is an article in the Bellingham Herald about gathering initiative signitures for the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights, yet there is no mention in the article of a new structure of law, just stopping coal. Note that comments on the Herald sight appear to be disappearing so if you have something to say try their FaceBook Page or get a message straight to the Mayor of Bellingham or to members of their City Council.

KGMI’s Wealth Wake Up with Dick Donahue – Podcast of interview with Bruce Ayers regarding the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights.  Interview starts in around the 7:00 minute mark.


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