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Protect Lake Whatcom ---
---It's Our Drinking Water
The Story of Lake Whatcom
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Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington

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(webmaster note: This is a statement made to the Bellingham City Council, in open session August 23rd, 2004, and presented here with permission)

Dear Councilmembers, City of Bellingham
August 23 2004

On your committee agenda this afternoon (Mon 23rd August 2004) was the Boats-Off Initiative, whose signature total has been certified as sufficient to be placed on the public ballot for a vote by the registered voters of the City of Bellingham.

The measure is before you.
Please just say YES.
Pass the proposal as is -- now -- as an ordinance -- and be done with it.

I believed strongly that if it goes on the ballot, the issue will be passed by the City voters -- just count the number of water-drinkers -vs- the number of recreational-boaters, as a starting point. The water-drinkers FAR outnumber the Power-Boaters, though the Boaters have shown that they lots of money.

There are two strong reasons to pass this outright :
1) Motor-Boats Off is the right thing to do, for the people and for the drinking water reservoir, regardless of the minor language points which some can quibble about in the specific language…..

.... but THIS YEAR, more importantly......

2) I do not want this to become another major issue to distract the energy of the community, by setting up another contentious campaign at a time when energies and political effort need to be directed to other races and issues.

That’s Plan A.

But if you cannot bring yourself to do what 85,000 water-drinkers will appreciate, for the betterment of their health, their safety and their pocketbook, then --

Plan B is to put the Initiative on the November ballot straight, as it is, unedited, not-re-titled, and without any competing confusing co-measure.

There is also NO NEED for any delay for legal review of the Certified Initiative. I learned the law and the terms of your Charter on Inititives and Referendums, Section 10, when I and others brought before you and the voters, the Citizen Initiative in 1999 which became Proposition 1 on the ballot that year. The Citizens have written the language of this Initiative, for better or for worse. You, the City, have no ability to change anything except the official ballot-title - all the rest will be a yes or no vote by the resident voters of the City.

There is NO legal review needed. Just pass the Boats-OFF Initiative, or put it straight on the November ballot.

Then spend your time and City staff resources working on things which you CAN really directly influence, like the budget and potholes and storm-water treatment and removal of other residential sewer connections from the storm-water pipe system and improved public bus service and increased measurement of actual pollution in the Reservoir and the streams which put most of the water in it.


Marian Beddill beddill@nas.com

The Initiative Group -- Whatcom
Our bottom-line principles are:
Protect the water supply in perpetuity -- maintain ecological viability of the lake for natural species -- distribute the financial burden fairly among those benefitting -- take immediate action if prudent -- take definitive action -- avoid actions which cut off future options.
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Bellingham, Washington 98226 --- The Fourth Corner of the USA