hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Point Roberts Crime Wave

I was down at the Saturday Market last Saturday, looking for New Library contributions, when I discovered that in the intervening two weeks, someone had made off with the gorilla, ruffled lizard, and dinosaur that had found a home on the Book Sculpture in front of the Julius Firehall, the site of the new library.


The sculpture has been up in its present size since last year and I don't remember at what point the plastic animals appeared.  In any case, well over a year ago, we showed up at the Saturday Market, and there they were.  It surprised me, since there are always a lot of kids around at the market area, that nobody had made off with any of them: they weren't glued down or anything.  But, then, I got used to the idea that nobody would make off with them.  And now they are.....gone!

And, incidentally, we are still in need of contributions to the library's renovation if you've been meaning to do it but just haven't gotten around to it.  We're looking for gap funding of about $100,000, but we'd accept less, of course.  Checks made out to FOPRL, then dropped off at the library or mailed to PO Box 970, 98281.

Friday, June 5, 2015

What's the Essential Problem?

The blog has had several thoughtful and extensive responses to the last post.  They are written as comments to that post and you have to go there to read them.  This the link.  You need to go to the end of the post where the comments are posted.

The views of the commenters differ: Judson, I think, is of the opinion that we don't know how to do what we need to do to make Point Roberts the wonderful place it could be.  Jeff, I judge, thinks we may be on the wrong side of history (although my daughter points out that 'History doesn't have a side.').  The third commenter echos that, suggesting that he may be too late for what he had hoped.   A private response from a longtime resident disagrees with both of them: R says essentially that this is how Point Roberts always works, how it always has worked: there was resistance to the grocery store, to the bank, to everything.

People who have talked to me about this directly have suggested that the problem is there's no 'head' to this organism.  It's just a creature with arms and legs and it thrashes about, with the five districts all thrashing independently of one another.  Does it make sense for the Fire District to have twice the financial resources that the Hospital District has?  Or for the Fire District to have about 10 times the financial resources as Park and Rec District has?  When the Community Advisory Committee was formed, it looked like there was some possibility for getting some kind of overall planning (although it would not have addressed that particular inequity), but once the availability of the gas tax money stalled out (thanks, Washington State Legislature!) and it got involved in character plan judgments of compliance and complaint,...ah, well, let's not go there.

Jeff points out that all the energy that is available here gets used up by dumb projects like the radio towers.  Which is probably true, but there is no way to determine what's important and what's not.  Or to whom it is important.  That is what government with an executive branch is supposed to do for you: but we have no head.

Another resident with a long history in volunteer work here points out that there are probably only about 50 people here on the Point that you can call to help in a sustained way to get something actually achieved.  Unless you're one of those 50, you may not know who they are.  But, without expecting to be in any way comprehensive, here are some people/groups who could always use some help:

1.  Friends of the Library.  Doing those book sales is very labor intensive.  Volunteer to help when the call comes out; you have to be strong enough to move boxes of books around or, to move individual books around and take money for the books (Americans only, for this last task).  But it only happens 3 or 4 times a year.
2.  The Food Bank provides a major service here: check with Henry Rosenthal to see if he needs YOUR skills.
3.  All five districts: It's important that people know what the Commissioners are doing or thinking about doing.  Go to a meeting now and then and see if you can make any sense of it.
4.  Point Interface: Join its email list, pay your $10 a year, and make sure PAWS gets a small cut (or a big cut) of anything you sell.  We are so lucky to have Carol Fuegi and Pam Circassian putting this together for us.  They might need a list of backup people with the appropriate kind of technical skills.  Let them know you're available and are fluent in https or whatever.
5.  If you feel strongly about the radio towers project and the possibility of this community's keeping the towers out of the Point, get in touch with them and go to their fundraising event on June 7th.  Link here
6.  Read the newspaper: the APB does a wonderful job of keeping us informed.
7.  Attend the Trinity Lutheran Concerts.  They're very high quality performances and in an accoustically terrific space.  And they make the kids' summer music camp possible.  That's a good thing to have in your community.

Doubtless many other things.  Let me know what they are.  I've got summer company so my brain is functioning on about half-speed, but i can convey information.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Taken Out of Context, . . .

Quoting a granddaughter: 'taken out of context, I must seem so strange.'  That's how I feel about Point Roberts, taken out of context, it is so strange, and its context is fairly inexplicable except to those who actually inhabit it and even to them the context is not the same.  For example, a weekender with a real house and job in Vancouver points out to me that he doesn't really have any interest in the community, as such, and acknowledges that that must be something of an irritant to those of us who live her full-time.  Well, yeah, sort of, but not all that much I'd think.  They pay taxes (2/3 of the property here is owned by Canadians and soon, it would appear, by Chinese investors who currently own a large housing development in process and now the marina) but they can't vote on what the rest of us want to use those taxes for.  And the weekenders do care about what happens here, even if it's outside their yard.  I got a note from someone a couple of weeks ago inquiring about some public property adjacent to the marina, in fact, and that said property used to be posted as public, but no longer is.  He was concerned about whether the new owners would be planning to reinvest it to the public, or just let it continue to slip into "apparently" private ownership.  Don't know the answer to that question.

Taken out of context, the idea that new investors (with the implication of deep pockets for improvements) would want to own a marina and make it into a spectacular localee doesn't seem that strange.  But in context, given that sailing up to the marina isn't all that much an improvement from driving up to the border crossing, it's a little hard to imagine what they have in mind.  According to the newspaper, the seller of the marina thinks this is what the new owners have in mind: a vision” to develop the marina and its properties into “the finest West Coast port for traveling and living.”

Imagine Pt. Roberts becoming the finest West Coast port for traveling and living.  You sail your giant yacht up and there's scarce room to park it.  You decide you'll live here on your giant yacht, but you'll have to walk anywhere on land that you want to go.  No buses, no taxis, no Uber here, and no reliable cellphone signal either.  So you'll have to travel with your automobile, making it a little less wonderful for traveling and living.  And, although there are a few perfectly okay restaurants here, it would be hard to imagine them as the finest on the West Coast.  So maybe these boat travelers will be cooking in their galleys, but of course they'll have to shop locally which, for the most part is okay, but it's not even Whole 
Foods, let alone the finest food on the West Coast.

Local entertainment?  We have our amusements but once again, "the finest"?

So what is this vision that would make Point Roberts so wondrous?  Well, there are its trees and its beaches but also its gone-awol dock and its collapsing boardwalk at Lighthouse Park and its missing public parking at Maple Beach, and its problematic long-term water supply, and the putative radio towers.  And a few other things, as well as the lack of a few other things.  Outside the context, it must seem like a lot of money (resources) could just turn us into Dubai.  Inside the context, not so much.

Monday, May 18, 2015

How Could I Not Know?

Today, is Victoria Day, which fact, apparently, causes thousands of B.C. residents to drive down to Point Roberts, as if Victoria's birthday was a particular source of celebration here on our shores.  I neglected to remember that today was Victoria Day and as a result chose voluntarily, but while lacking adequate information, to drive to Tsawwassen to purchase a few items.  Going into B.C. was nothing, but coming back was formidable: 45 minutes waiting in line to get through the U.S. side.  While waiting, observing directly 3 separate cars lane jumping in order to minimize their time in line.  (One rode the Nexus lane until almost the end and then shoved himself into the regular lane blocking the Nexus lane for almost 10 minutes before he could effectively shove far enough; two others rode up the outside Nexus lane, turned right on 1st Ave., made a U-turn, and then turned right when the light changed putting them into the front of the Nexus lane.  In the U.S. of southern California, such behaviors could get you in serious trouble, but in the much more polite world of Canada, apparently it results in nothing more than a finger shaking.)

I remember hearing John LeSow, some months ago at a meeting of some sort here, arguing that the real problem of P.R. was not economic development or water access/cost, but border access.  Sitting there today, I could imagine a future in which those of us inside P.R. would be very unwilling to cross that border because it would be so time-consuming to get back.  Might happen; I'm pretty sure that the powers that could not care less about how inconvenient our border crossing experience is and thus it is not a problem on their agenda.  Why would they?  They don't have to deal with it.  Maybe the CBP could require that all the head honchos in the Northwestern CBP live in Point Roberts at least one month/year (if not all year) in order to share our experience; in order to feel our pain.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Last Day to File Was Today

Park and Recreation has three candidates for three seats, so unless somebody mounts a write-in campaign, that's a done deal.

Fire District has two candidates for one seat: Judson Meraw will challenge Stan Riffle for Riffle's previous seat.  My vote goes to Judson whom I've known for years.  Riffle has done, in my view, little more than give two votes to Meursing.

Water District: Madeleine Anderson goes unchallenged, but Arthur Reber and Wayne Knowles will be competing for the vacant seat.  Reber has my vote there.  Knowles' development work seems a little bit of conflict of interest for Water Board issues, I'd think.

Next, everyone who filed has a week to change his/her mind and withdraw.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

More Election Stuff

Updating as we go along.  Linda Hughes is running for relection to Parks and Rec., as is Stephen Falk.  Bennett Blaustein is running for Robbins' vacated seat.

Arthur Reber, Madeleine Anderson, and Adam Rozyskie  seem all to be running for three seats on the Water Board.  update: Mr. Rozyskie withdrew his candidacy on 14 May.

Stan Riffle is running for reelection to the Fire District.

Here is the link to the Auditor's Office List of Candidates who have filed.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Local Democracy.

(2nd update, see below).There are several government Districts here in Point Roberts, run by Commissioners who are elected.  To get elected, you have to file for the office in question (e.g., Point Roberts Park and Recreation District, Position 1), and then enough people have to vote for you to get elected.

The current Commissioners may or may not be running for re-election.  At the time of filing for a position, it is hard to know whether they are: are you thinking of running for a position that has a sure-fire winner already?  Or what?

Running doesn't seem to require much other than filing for the office: not even any charge for it. [Update: you have to be a resident and a registered voter.]  The Voters Association might sponsor a meeting in which you would get to stand up and talk about why you want to be elected.  And there are only some 600+ voters that are your target.  It ought to be organized more effectively, but of course that's the problem with government in Point Roberts: there is no overall organizer for effectiveness.  I suppose the County doesn't care much about how these positions get filled.  If we had stronger local associations, that might be the route.  But we don't.  There are a few people interested in this stuff, but not very many.

BUT IF YOU ARE SUCH A PERSON, consider filing for a position.  The Park and Rec District has at least one clear opening as Mark Robbins (after 8 years) is not running for reelection.  The Water District has one clear opening (presumably resulting from Bill Meursing's resignation).  On the other side of people who are running for reelection, we have Kandace Harper, who was just appointed to a vacant seat, at the Hospital District, and Stephen Falk who is running for reelection at Park and Rec.

Beyond that, I don't know.  Is Linda Hughes running for re-election at Park and Rec?  Is Stan Riffle running for re-election at the Fire District?  Is Madeleine Anderson running for reelection at the Water District?  Ernie Loreen at the Cemetery District?  Don't know.  Ask them.  Because they're incumbents, they generally have the edge in an election such as this.

Consider whether you care enough about the community to commit some time to it; consider whether you're actually available to commit some time to what needs to be attended to; consider whether you have some actual skills or expertise that might be helpful.  E.g., Park and Rec is engaged in considerable maintenance of the Community Center and we expect them to be moving on to the new library soon.  Those projects don't just get managed from the sky.  The Commissioners have to have an overall view of how they are to proceed once funded, how to keep the projects on track, etc.  It's real work with real importance.  You up for it?

If you are, here's the link to the Whatcom County Auditor's office which has a further link to a candidate's guide.  It looks more overwhelming than it is because it's intended to describe the process for big positions as well as small ones, such as local special districts, which is all we have here.  People are always flapping about freedom and democracy and the splendid government of the U.S.  But, all those things work for us only if good people are willing to step up to the task of making those governmental institutions work.  And the first job is to file for office.  The filing deadline is May 11-15.  And if you change your mind, you can withdraw your name over the week following.

This is a discouraging post to write.  I don't think there are many people in point roberts up for this kind of challenge, and that in itself is discouraging.  Obviously, there are people who are not able to do this for legitimate reasons: illness, family obligations, away-ness much of the time.  But there are so many others....We need people thinking about the water situation in Point Roberts, about how to apportion the resources of the Fire District between medical and fire, about how to provide medical services at a time when cost issues are so difficult for healthcare.  The cemetery, on the other hand, seems to be well in hand.

Update: Bennett Blaustein finds, where I failed, the Auditor's site where it tells who has actually filed for the offices:  HERE.  So far, I see, Arthur Reber has filed for the Water District, Kandace Harper for the Hospital District, and Stephen Falk for the Park and Recreation District.  Bennett tells me that he has filed for the Park and Rec seat being vacated by Mark Robbins, and that it should show up on the list tomorrow.  This is all good news and we need more of it.