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Archive for February, 2011

Open letter to Whatcom Co. citizens

Wednesday, February 16, 2011 @ 10:02 AM
posted by admin

BRINKSMANSHIP, AGAIN…ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

For the third time in just over a year, the Lummi Nation has imposed yet another deadline to end ferry services to Lummi Island. The chairman of Lummi Indian Business Council, Clifford Cultee, sent a letter to Whatcom County Council Chairman Sam Crawford dated 2/10/11 that rejected the County’s monthly rent check of $16,667 and told the County to “terminate its ferry operations” within 60 days.

Why? The simple answer is money. The County’s best offer was $200,000 a year for 25 years, plus an annual consumer price index (CPI) adjustment potentially worth millions more. This was still not enough, despite the fair-market rental appraisal of $65,000 a year on the tidelands property in question where the ferry dock is located at Gooseberry Point..

What will it take to end this cycle of brinksmanship which holds Lummi Island hostage? Here’s a message to the County: Just run the ferry! The Lummi Nation accepted the benefits of the expired lease for 25 years, and now wants to take an unfair advantage by ignoring a legal obligation to renew the lease for fair market value for another 25 years.

Perhaps it’s time for a court of law to determine the legal rights of Whatcom County and Lummi Nation. At the heart of the problem lie federal issues much bigger and more complex than a small county government with depleted resources can be expected to handle on its own. There is no parity between Whatcom County and the sovereign Lummi Nation, which depends upon and is accountable to the federal government.

The Department of Interior, through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, specifically granted the right-of-way for the road to Lummi Island (i.e., the ferry run) as a matter of public necessity more than 80 years ago. The BIA holds the disputed tidelands in trust for the Lummi Nation. The BIA has the authority to grant easements and approve leases, which it generally does only with the tribe’s approval .

Yet the BIA has steadfastly refused to consider the ferry lease extension and has stonewalled requests for intervention from both County Executive Pete Kremen and from representatives of Protect Lummi Island Community (PLIC). For an agency of the United States government to fail to recognize the existence of a right-of-way it previously granted is unconscionable.

We need our Congressional delegates to step up and help solve this federal problem. The citizens of Whatcom County must speak out clearly to our representatives and say, “Enough is enough, fix this.”

To our Lummi Nation neighbors, our message is also clear: your long-term interests, community development, and public good will are better served by finding workable compromises and solutions.

As a community in danger, the time is critical for Lummi Island residents to take action and send a strong message for help to our Congressional delegates. Whatever your position is, we can all agree that we need the Gooseberry Point ferry terminal to maintain our lives and the well-being of our community.

Please join us Tuesday, February 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Grange to develop an action plan. The time is now.

Stuart Rich, President
On behalf of the Board of PLIC

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Previous February Meetings 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 @ 10:02 PM
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Presentations by Public Works and County Finance Department 2/7 in Bellingham

FERRY TASK FORCE – Abart Report compiled from notes by a PLIC Board member.

Treasurer’s Presentation 2-7-11 handed out by County Treasurer.

NEEDS-BASED FARES REPORT taken from notes of a PLIC  Board member.

OVERVIEW OF MEETING 2-7-2011 created by a PLIC Board member.

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Summary: 2/7 Abart Session

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 @ 10:02 AM
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County Treasurer Steve Oliver presented a report on special needs fares. Treasurer’s Presentation 2-7-11

Public Works Director Frank Abart presented a report on all facets of the ferry operations, and fielded questions from the Task Force and citizens in attendance.

OVERVIEW OF MEETING 2-7-2011

FERRY TASK FORCE – Abart Report

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