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

October 20, 2015

Reality Bites in Ferndale

Filed under: Local Issue,Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — wally @ 8:07 pm

In this case, reality is taking a bite out of Jon Mutchler and his faltering campaign to be the next mayor of Ferndale. The one big problem for him is that even though he has lived in and around Ferndale for decades, his day to day reality is not the same reality occupied by most people in Ferndale.  And that living in another reality is especially true when it comes to large scale retail development in Ferndale. (aka Walmart)

In one of his Facebook comments Jon Mutchler said that the law won’t allow us to ban certain stores.

Reality Bites: Yes, cities can block large retail from certain areas. If we remember, Bellingham and Ferndale both had “big box” bans in place at one time and now they don’t. The City of Ferndale is tasked with managing growth for the people of Ferndale and rolling over for developers isn’t a management style I can agree with. We really can say no and I really don’t want Ferndale to be known as the “Walmart Exit”

I’ve also read on Facebook somewhere that Jon Mutchler is trusted to maintain a Ferndale that’s “open for business” in the fashion that Mayor Jensen has established.

Reality Bites: The people of Ferndale that I know don’t want Ferndale to be open for just any old type of business that comes along. The people I know want us to be open for businesses that bring positives to Ferndale like good jobs and needed services. Most people I know in Ferndale, don’t want a Walmart, especially next to Haggen near the already busy Main Street/I-5 interchange. The people I know recognize that large retailers, especially Walmart, will bring a whole host of problems with them when they come to town.

  • Walmart brings large traffic volumes and it brings them 7 days a week.
  • Walmart brings crime, parking lot theft, store theft, drug trafficking.
  • Walmart will burden our Police.
  • Walmart brings vagrancy.
  • Walmart will burden our EMS.
  • The deeper you look, the worser and worser it gets.

Several times I’ve heard and read from Jon Mutchler that large retailers will pay to mitigate the traffic problems they create and that Ferndale won’t experience any worsening of traffic. <<== anyone else’s spidey-sense tingling?

Again, Reality Bites: Large retailers moving to Ferndale will pay only a small fraction of the cost to mitigate traffic. A rough estimate that  was used in Ferndale City Council meeting, is that on a good day the business would pay only about 25% of the cost for traffic mitigation leaving the rest to us taxpayers. Another brutal reality is that the Ferndale City Council voted to additionally rebate half of the impact fees to large retailers after 3 years. You can be certain that any large retailer will be filling out that rebate coupon.

Ferndale is a great town, but to keep it a great town, or even make it a better town, we desperately need better city management.  I see Cathy Watson as the natural leader for that better city management.  On City Council, she recognized that Ferndale could do better than just accepting large retail and all of the financial and traffic burdens that it brings. She also recognized and voted against the flawed system where impact fees are rebated to developers, only to be paid for by taxpayers (that means you and I).  In decision after decision I see her working a balanced approach that doesn’t value business over people.

I won’t say that Cathy Watson will be a perfect mayor.  However, I will say that I believe she will be a darn good mayor with a tremendous heart for the people of this town and most importantly, she lives in the same reality as most of us in Ferndale do.

September 28, 2014

Why a Gas Tax in Ferndale? – updated (see below)

Filed under: Local Issue — Tags: , , — wally @ 6:55 pm

Voting Yes or No on a new Gas Tax proposed by the City of Ferndale is the wrong question.  The right question to ask is why the City of Ferndale is proposing this Border Area Gas Tax at all?  And that is a question that comes down to greed vs. ethics, so let’s look at what the City of Ferndale says about their tax proposal.

WHEREAS, the City of Ferndale, Washington, is a “Border Area Jurisdiction” being located within ten (10) miles of a U.S./Canada border crossing; and

WHEREAS, the current year-to-year financial support for City street maintenance and construction has not been sufficient to adequately fund the City’s street maintenance and construction needs; and

City of Ferndale Resolution NO. 14-06-16-A

So the way I read this portion of the City resolution is that Ferndale needs money for street maintenance and  they think they deserve the tax revenue simply because they are within 10 miles of a border crossing.  I could argue either point as they are both quite fuzzy, but what really needs to be addressed is the ethics of this resolution.  And to the point, I believe it was unethical for the City of Ferndale to have brought this resolution to the people because the City has not addressed the actual purpose of the Border Area Tax, nor how the tax moneys collected will address the needs implied in that purpose.  Here’s how the State explains the tax in a nutshell.

REVENUE SOURCE: Border Area Motor Vehicle Fuel and Special Fuel Tax
RCW: RCW 82.47.020 (Authorized in 1991)

Cities and towns within 10 miles of an international border crossing or transportation benefit districts (TBDs) that contain an international border crossing.

For street maintenance and construction in areas along the Canadian border that are experiencing extraordinary traffic levels and impacts due to Canadian motorists.

Washington State Transportation Resource Manual – January 2013 Update

The actual purpose of the Border Area Tax is to fund street maintenance that results from extraordinary traffic and impacts due to Canadians motorists.   First question on my mind was what areas of Ferndale were being extraordinarily impacted by Canadian motorists and where are the areas of Ferndale with extraordinary levels of Canadian traffic?  I couldn’t think of any impacts from Canadian motorists at all, let alone extraordinary impacts.  Next question on my mind was what areas around Ferndale did the City feel were being extraordinarily impacted?   In essence, why did they propose the tax?

Well I perused the whole of the City Council Report on Gas Tax and, as I suspected, came up with absolutely nothing related to the impacts of Canadian motorists on Ferndale streets.   There was no mention of extraordinary impacts and there was no mention of even everyday impacts.  They did mention how much they needed more money (about $15,000,000) for the lengthy list of road repairs they want, but they made no mention of any roads on the list due to Canadian traffic.  In fact I don’t think most of them see more than a handful of Canadian cars.   No where in City documents, Facebook posts by the City, nor Herald articles, can I recall any mention of Canadian impact on the streets of Ferndale.   I see no case made anywhere for the City’s entitlement to the Border Area Tax due to extraordinary impacts from Canadian motorists, yet the tax was still proposed.

In my opinion, the City of Ferndale is proposing the Border Area Tax out of greed, a desire for tax revenue that they are not entitled to, but want anyway and apparently think they can get.  Furthermore, I believe it is unethical for them to consider this tax without addressing how it meets the tax’s purpose and also unethical for them to propose it to the voters without informing the voters of the real purpose of the tax.

If I lived in the city limits of Ferndale I would vote No to this gas tax, simply because the question doesn’t even belong on the ballot.   I wouldn’t complicate things with worrying about gallon exemptions or how much the penny means per person, I’d just say No because I wouldn’t take money under false pretenses and so I don’t think my City government should either.

Takeaway message:

Canadian traffic is not extraordinarily impacting the roads in Ferndale, so the City of Ferndale has no ethical reason for collecting this tax.

‘nuff said, Vote No

(Update 10/2/14)

The Ferndale Record held a small Gas Tax pro/con forum on Monday evening.  I didn’t attend, but later found that they asked the question which I had posted on Facebook.

The Washington State Transportation Resource Manual says that the Border Area fuel tax is “For street maintenance and construction in areas along the Canadian border that are experiencing extraordinary traffic levels and impacts due to Canadian motorists.”

Which roads in Ferndale have experienced extraordinary traffic levels and impacts due to Canadian motorists?

How would the City of Ferndale use the tax revenue to directly mitigate the extraordinary impact of Canadian motorists?

Councilman Mutchler, on the pro side, answered the question but in a completely vague, not really answering the question kind of way.  As for extraordinary impacts he is sure that Canadians drive as far west as Woods Coffee, because he’s seen them.  He talked about asphalt damage to Axton Rd on the Pilot/McDonalds side of the freeway where lots of Canadians go, but didn’t actually say where the damage was located.  I live on that side of the freeway and have driven that road 3 or 4 times a day for several years.  The significant damage to the road is not between the freeway and the Pilot station, it is further out on Axton near the city limits in an area where I can’t recall ever seeing a Canadian license plate.

The councilman also made no mention of how the Border Tax funds would directly or even indirectly mitigate impacts caused by Canadians, presumably because there is no extraordinary impact or because he already has other designs on the tax moneys.  Either way, with no new information my position remains.

Canadian traffic is not extraordinarily impacting the roads in Ferndale, so the City of Ferndale has no ethical reason for collecting this tax.


January 26, 2012

Just Say No to the City of Ferndale – Part 1

A recent Whatcom View article titled  Mayor says Ferndale tax increase needed to repair roads can be credited with offering sufficient irritation that I found the time to again write in this blog.

Recently the City of Ferndale has been emphasizing and funding extreme street makeovers like the Second Ave Extension, including the useless park next to a rail yard.  Now the Mayor says that funding is “woefully short” for basic road maintenance and repairs so the must ask the voters for a two-tenths of 1% sales tax increase.

Anyone who has driven on the hill in Ferndale knows that there are roads that need repairing.  That fact is not in doubt.  Even so, I can’t support this tax increase because a tax increase is not required to afford the repairs.   Rather, the City needs to get back to focusing already available funds on repair and scheduled maintenance of existing roads so that we get maximum life from them.  It was while attending a City Council meeting that I first heard mention of  a time in the last few years where funding for street repairs was cut.  The Mayor didn’t mention it in his letter, but it was briefly mentioned in another Herald Article.

Malpezzi said he voted against putting the increase request on the ballot because he didn’t believe the public would support it.

And he said the issue was one of priorities, noting that money that would have come from the solid waste tax to pay for street maintenance and repair has instead been shifted elsewhere, referring specifically to help pay for a new police station.

capture suspend maintenance fundingRight on both accounts!  I don’t think the public will support the increase and It looks like it could have been in 2009 that funding for road maintenance was  suspended, though I’m not a financial expert so I could be mistaken.   However, even an amateur review of Ferndale’s current budget and budgets for the last 4-5 years shows that overall revenue from property taxes, sales taxes and various utility taxes have steadily increased and are projected to keep steadily increasing.  Let me repeat that since that is not what you hear from the City officials or read in the news, overall revenue from property taxes, sales taxes and various utility taxes have steadily increased and are projected to keep steadily increasing.

What I also determined during my quick review,  was that what the City refers to as  a revenue shortfall in the road repair budget  is simply the negative effects of excessive spending, excessive borrowing, misguided priorities and what amounts to a financial account shell game where the council and mayor regularly “tap” funds from one account for use in another often unrelated account.  I was actually amazed at the the amount of  fund “tapping” going on in the City government.   Am I the only one who didn’t know that our Solid Waste Taxes have been systematically inflated, not for Solid Waste disposal, but for leveraging loans and/or state and federal grants for new streets or perhaps a police station. Don’t believe me?

SWT funding If you read the rest of this Request for Council Action don’t miss the list of annual 1% tax increases on the second page.  it’s quite a long list of increases that adds up to so much more revenue than this little two tenths of 1% business.

So really this boils down to the fact that the City of Ferndale does not need a tax increase to repair roads.  The have plenty of revenue to fund street repair without a sales tax increase.  Sadly, instead of taking care of business, they’ve gone the route of shuffling things around, using the money elsewhere, doing the extreme makeover thing and then coming back to the people with a sob story.  Call me cruel, but I say no to the tax increase the same way I say no to the hungry kid crying for more lunch money because he bought candy with his on the way to school.

Sorry, but No!

And I hope you make a better choice next time.

Coming up

Just Say No to the City of Ferndale – Part 2: How small towns like Ferndale contribute to the financial decline of our nation.

December 11, 2010

Wrong choices for our kids

reapersantaTed Bundy spent much of his youth baby sitting his younger siblings, would you let him watch you children? 

Would you hire Dr. Jack (Death) Kevorkian for in home care of your mother? 

Knowing what we know now about these people, I think the answer would be a widespread resounding, NO!  

If that is the case then why are we not only allowing, but welcoming and paying Planned Parenthood to come into our schools and counsel our kids?

Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood hopes to reach out to 200 to 250 teens in Whatcom County over the life of [Teen Outreach Program] TOP’s implementation here, Dahlstedt-Rienstra said.

Mount Baker High School will partner with Planned Parenthood for the project in Deming. TOP also will be launched in Ferndale – possibly at Ferndale High School – at a later date.

"There’s a lot of enthusiasm about it," she said. "I think that, in light of so many other budget cuts that are happening right now, people see this as an opportunity to pick up what some have had to cut in terms of youth programming.  


As TOP’s is described by Planned Parenthood it is “an evidence-based program proven to develop the positive potential of teens by reducing unintended teen pregnancy and increasing school success.”  I’ve yet to find the exact program curricula, but I do think that the cause as stated is noble and much needed.  Who wouldn’t want more success in schools and less unintended pregnancies?  The problem with the situation is that we are hiring the wrong people to deliver this message to our kids because they have other less noble messages that may also be delivered.

Regardless of the stated intent of this program as well as the number of people Planned Parenthood has helped with contraception, cancer screening, STD treatment and pregnancy tests Planned Parenthood still performed over 300,000 abortions in 2008.  I don’t think Planned Parenthood can keep quiet on their preferred method of dealing with unborn kids anymore than the once recognize real doctor, Dr. Kevorkian can help himself from treating the elderly to an early death. 

My intent was to carry out my duty as a doctor, to end their suffering. Unfortunately, that entailed, in their cases, ending of the life.  Jack Kevorkian

Dr. Death felt he was doing his duty as a doctor by killing his patients with a “medical procedure” in the same way that Planned Parenthood seems to think they are doing a service by performing a “medical procedure” which ends the life of a child.   I think that in both cases labeling death as a medical procedure is just an easy way for them to feel better about what they are doing and who they really are.  If I thought that Planned Parenthood could administer this program with just deference to protecting life, I’d be ok with the program.  But their track record when confronted with a pregnancy reminds me too much of the Grim Reaper when confronted with souls to harvest.  He will swing his scythe, they will perform their procedures and people will die. 

In 2008, the last reporting record I find, Planned Parenthood showed that they administered just over a million pregnancy tests.  Now it may be private information how many of the test came out positive, but for perspective it should be noted that Planned Parenthood also performed about 1/3 of a million abortions during the same time period.  To put that another way, every 3rd pregnancy test resulted in Planned Parenthood performing an abortion thus ending the life of a child.   And another fast fact is that during the same year which Planned Parenthood performed the 324,008 abortions, they gave only 2,405 adoption referrals.  That’s more than 99 times that Planned Parenthood counseled an expectant mother to abort their child, for every 1 time that they referred them to an agency that would help the child live and potentially be adopted. 

I’ve also read so many times that Planned Parenthood is all about reproductive healthcare and that abortion is such a small, almost insignificant part of their program.  But almost never do I read in the media that in the cases of actual pregnancy, ending the life of the child is the much preferred service at Planned Parenthood.  The pro-abortion moniker is so easily applied.

Ted Bundy would not be the best choice in babysitters and Jack Kevorkian would not be the best choice in rest home buddies for your parents.  Asking Planned Parenthood into our schools for a long term relationship building program with our teens is just as wrong!   It’s like putting a Santa hat on the Grim Reaper.

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