January 22, 2007

CHELAN WAL-MART ALLOWED TO OPEN TODAY

Quoting USA Today’s edition this morning,
“Chelan –
This community will allow a new Wal-Mart to open today, despite a judge’s ruling that the city issued invalid building permits for the store. The project’s opponents sued Chelan after it allowed the construction, which was more than three times the size allowed by local zoning laws. City officials say they’re looking to change those laws.”

The Wenatchee World reports in its January 21, 2007 edition:
“The new Wal-Mart super store in Chelan will be allowed to open as scheduled on Monday [Jan. 22], officials with the city of Chelan announced Friday [Jan. 19] afternoon…They (sic) city still has to remedy that issue, and on Friday said one option will be to modify the site’s zoning through its planned development district. Witherbee said that Pacland, the Seattle company that conducted the planning and development for the Chelan Wal-Mart, has already submitted a “preapplication” to amend its plan. “Unless we’re legally obligated to, we’re not going to prevent the store from opening. In fact, the spirit of the judge’s order is that the store should open,” said Mayor Jay Witherbee.”

Pacland worked on the planning and development of the Yelm Wal-Mart.


January 21, 2007

AL GORE’S FILM OK’D FOR SHOWING IN THURSTON SCHOOLS

The Olympian reported in its editions today that,
“Some Thurston County teachers have shown their classes former Vice President Al Gore’s climate change documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Other local educators are seeking permission to present the film, which recently sparked controversy 40 miles north of South Sound in the Federal Way School District, where showings have been restricted.

Meanwhile, Bush Middle School teacher Jana Dean is about to get a firsthand experience with climate change research during a two-week trip to the arctic. In February, the Tumwater School District educator plans to join researchers who are studying climate change by measuring the depth of arctic ice, snowpack temperatures and more.

The Earthwatch Institute and the National Geographic Society helped fund a grant that made her trip possible.

Earthwatch contacted her about the opportunity after she wrote an article for the publication Rethinking Schools about her work teaching students about global warming, Dean said…

“People need to know about this,” Dean said.

‘An Inconvenient Truth’

The Federal Way School Board recently restricted showing the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” after parents complained. Federal Way teachers who want to show the movie now are required to balance it with an adequate opposing viewpoint. Plus, the district’s superintendent must approve each showing.

Neither the Olympia nor Tumwater school districts have any plans to ban the film, district officials said, leaving the decision about whether to show it to individual teachers.

So far, several Tumwater High School teachers have shown the movie, district spokeswoman Sue Haskin said. She expects more to follow.”


January 20, 2007

YELM PRAIRIE ARTS ASSN. ANNOUNCES “OPEN MIKE SATURDAYS”

The Yelm Prairie Arts Association announces:

Open Mike Saturdays
Free to the public. All ages welcome

at
The Blue Bottle
309 Yelm Ave. 360-458-4611
Come strut your stuff!
Comedians, dancers, musicians, poets, performance artists, vocalists, writers
Sign up start at 3:30 for a 10 minute time slot
Show start @4:00 to 6:00

We also will have the open Mike on
February 3, March 10, April 14,
@ 4:00- 6:00pm


January 19, 2007

DEPT. OF ECOLOGY MEETING ON YELM’S THOMPSON CREEK FLOODING

A multi-agency meeting about Yelm’s Thompson Creek flooding with officials from the Washington State Department of Ecology & Department of Fish & Wildlife has been postponed until Monday, January 29th in the Department of Ecology auditorium 300 Desmond Dr., Lacey
from 9-noon.

The Dept. of Ecology has received several complaints in regards to flooding issues, water quality issues, wetland filling, channel modifications and other activities that have affected Thompson Creek in Yelm.

This meeting is open to the interested public!

Kevin Farrell
Floodplain Management Specialist
Washington Department of Ecology – SWRO
(360) 407-7253
kfar461@ecy.wa.gov


January 18, 2007

GROUND BREAKING JAN. 18 ON NEW GOLF CLUBHOUSE

“With one whole year as Yelm’s mayor under his belt, Ron Harding has performed many official duties, including attending new business openings and community events… When he attends the special ground breaking for Yelm’s new golf clubhouse next week, instead of scooping up a handful of dirt with a symbolic golden shovel, he’ll get to sit in a big machine and scoop dirt with a real bucket. Harding was invited by the developing duo of Doug Bloom and Steve Chamberlain, who bought the golf course and dilapidated country club. They are now creating a first-class space for regional golfers to enjoy. Tahoma Terra Country Club’s ground breaking ceremony is 1 p.m., next Thursday, Jan. 18, at the site of the former building on Mosman Street, two blocks off First Street and State Highway 507,” quoting the Nisqually Valley News edition of January 12, 2007.
Here is the link to the Tahoma Valley Golf & Country Club.


January 17, 2007

REMINDER: ED WILTSIE’S EARTH CHANGES TALK TOMMORROW NIGHT

Ed Wiltsie, BSCE, MSCE, PE (Professional Engineer) has announced he will be holding a lecture titled:
“Earth Changes, Part 1 – Global Climate Change & the Systems At Work”

Where: Yelm Middle School – Commons
When: Thursday, January 18
Time: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Cost: $10 at the door

Mr. Wiltsie has a vast amount of experience in geology & soils and will share his observations to be prepared for the days to come – days that are here.

You will not want to miss his unique perspective.
Tell your friends & family to join you for this fantastic knowledge Mr. Wiltsie is bringing to his Yelm neighbors.
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!


Photo courtesy of Ed Wiltsie


January 16, 2007

STUDY: RISING WATERS CAPABLE OF FLOODING PARTS OF SOUTH SOUND

“Climate change could lead to sea-level rise capable of flooding 56 square miles of South Sound by the end of the century, a report released Wednesday [Jan 11] says.

The rising waters of Puget Sound would affect at least 44,429 people, a population greater than the city of Olympia. The city, particularly its downtown, would be one of the most heavily affected areas, the $100,000 report says.

The study group used a 24-inch sea-level rise estimate, based on a projection that the northeast Pacific Ocean will rise between 3 and 40 inches,” quoting The Olympian.

How would that affect the Nisqually River Basin & the City of Yelm & vicinity?


January 15, 2007

IN REMEMBRANCE OF A GREAT AMERICAN

To pause in remembrance of a great American on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in America:

“At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement,” quoting the Nobel Prize website.

“At the White House Rose Garden on November 2, 1983, U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a federal holiday to honor King. It was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986 and is called Martin Luther King Day. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, around the time of King’s birthday [January 15, 1929]. In January 17, 2000, for the first time, Martin Luther King Day was officially observed in all 50 U.S. states. This is one of three federal holidays dedicated to an individual American and the only one dedicated to an African American,” quoting Wikipedia.

“This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as U.S. deaths in Iraq exceed 3,000 and Iraqi casualties climb into the hundreds of thousands, we need to remember King’s words of wisdom about the perils of war. King was not only an advocate of desegregation and civil rights but also an internationalist, who in 1967 took a principled but controversial stand against the escalating war in Vietnam…In April 1967, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient delivered an eloquent antiwar speech at Riverside Church in New York. It was one of his most powerful orations.

“I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government,” he said.

King advocated nonviolence not only for the poor, oppressed and subjugated black people of the South, but also for the presidents, the power brokers and profiteers. In King’s view, it is self-serving and duplicitous to tell protesters and people without much power to be calm, dignified and nonaggressive, but at the same time allow governments to perpetuate even greater violence against innocent civilians for the sake of economic and political interests.

In January 2007, it’s crucial to understand King’s message about the dangers of war and imperialism,” quoting
“Barbara Ransby [who] is an associate professor in the Department of African American Studies and History at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org,” in The Olympian.


January 14, 2007

WHY ARE THE YELM AREA RESIDENTS UNINFORMED ON IMPORTANT WATER ISSUES UNDERTAKEN BY THE CITY OF YELM?

Why have Yelm area residents been mute on water issues undertaken by the City of Yelm, which will affect everyone in and out of city limits?

I continue to be amazed at the City of Yelm officials’ favor of developers over the value of their small-town personna- from Wal-Mart to Tahoma Terra to Thurston Highlands, et al, under the guise of the monetary benefits to the city, all while “backseating” the very constituents they are supposed to serve.
I am aware of and realize that my tone may sometimes seem acerbic, however I believe that the “little guy/gal” that pays their taxes, spends their dollars and raises their children here deserve to be heard and have the effects of the city’s decisions on their future understood, considered and adhered to, above the monetary benefits to corporations and the town’s tax revenue- a true small-town America!

I raise these issues so our local community can be educated and hopefully desire to join with me to act in speaking out on this and other important issues that will affect our lives, our children’s & grandchildren’s for generations.

The following is one such issue I brought before the Yelm City Council on Janaury 9, 2007 with these questions:

Facts:
-The City of Yelm has been looking at the potential to develop water rights in what is known as the SW Aquifer since it annexed that land in 1995. That was one of the chief forces behind the annexation.
-The area within city limits where this aquifer is located is currently on PRIVATELY OWNED LAND by the developers of Thurston Highlands.
-The Yelm City Council has approved almost $600,000 of taxpayer money for what is called the SW Aquifer Study to determine if there are enough water resources on the land where the private development of Thurston Highlands is to be built. An update was given the Yelm City Council in a December 12, 2006 Staff Report on the project.
-The City of Yelm has stated it desperately needs more water for the continued level of growth on which it has embarked.
-The City of Yelm has stated it has reached a point where there are not enough water resources to continue the current rate of developmental approval or to provide water for future developmental consideration.
-The City of Yelm’s development department does not approve developers applications without first proving the existence of a certified water resource [a determination there is enough water to support the needs of the homes & businesses].
-The Yelm City Council has publicly stated on several occasions that private, for-profit developments are going to be mitigated only with private money. That means taxpayer money from city coffers will not be used in a private developments application and/or approval.

Application & Contractual Questions:
-The City is entertaining the private development of Thurston Highlands without a certified water resource? Why?
-The City accepted the Thurston Highlands application without a certified water resource? Why?
If I applied to build a development, would the City allow me or any other developer to do so without first proving water availability?
-Is this preferential treatment for Thurston Highlands?

-The City Staff Report says Through the Conceptual Master Plan process for the Thurston Highlands community, there will be a determination on the pro-rata share of private financial participation towards this project. [this means that the costs of the water study will be divided between the city and the developer and that the split of those costs is yet to be determined.]
-Does the City of Yelm have a contract [including the pro-rata share] to develop water rights with the Thurston Highlands developers?
-If so, what is the formula?
-If none currently exists, how & when will that be determined?
-What limits, if any, have the developers put on their pro-rata share of the water study?
-Is this a blank-check issued by the City of Yelm to continue to fund a study for private property?
-What if the developers opt out of or default on the project? Has anyone thought of that as a possibility?
-Who would then pay the city for the developers share?

-This taxpayer-funded Aquifer study will provide support for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) & SEPA review for the Thurston Highlands project, yet the Yelm City Council has publicly stated on several occasions that private, for-profit developments are NOT going to be mitigated with public money. Why is the City of Yelm spending all of this taxpayer money to support a private developers application, without any monetary participation from the developer?

-If the City is fronting the money for this project in conjunction with Thurston Highlands, does the city taxpayer get interest back on the loan of their money on behalf of Thurston Highlands, and is that calculated in the formula for repayment from the developer?

-Mayor Harding responded to two of these questions I posed at the January 9, 2007 City Council meeting saying, “Steve, we’re not going to address your questions here tonight, however I will say you did not do your homework, as the city has been engaged in attempting to access the water in SW aquifer for years… and that the city was going to develop the water in the SW Aquifer study no matter what and if Thurston Highlands joins the City in that project, all the better for the city taxpayer with Thurston Highlands assisting to defray the costs of the study.” However, this is the DEVELOPERS’ PRIVATE LAND; the city DOES NOT own that property. The city has only accepted an application for the Thurston Highlands development. If the developer declines participation in the development of water, what is the city then going to do- condemn the land and take the water? If the developers agree to work with the city on a water rights transfer, where is the contract?

Conduct of Study Questions:
-The City has authorized spending almost $600,000 to date for the SW Aquifer Study, which does not include local stakeholders such as the City of Olympia, City of Lacey and the Nisqually Tribe, quoting the Staff Report. If almost $600,000 has been spent to produce a defensible mitigation plan [just] for the City of Yelm, then has the Yelm taxpayer & City Council considered the boatload of money required for evaluations of joint mitigation strategies with the Cities of Olympia and Lacey and the Nisqually Tribe” yet to come [meaning Yelm will be working with Olympia, Lacey & the Tribe about this aquifer’s use in the future]? Councilman Bob Isom expressed his concern for continued additional taxpayer funds requested from city staff for this study at the December 12, 2006 Council meeting. Does Mr. Isom, the Mayor & City Council know all of the other forthcoming expenditure requests for this work? Where are those amounts budgeted?

-How can the City of Yelm produce a “defensible mitigation plan” without a contract from the owners of the land with the water, Thurston Highlands? How is that a defensible mitigation plan?

-Why are assumptions, as stated in the December 12, 2006 City of Yelm Staff Report, being used for the preparation of a study of such magnitude?
What type of engineering principle does this represent?

-How does the City of Yelm propose to recharge the deeper aquifer as required by state law, with the amounts of withdrawal-water being contemplated? How would the city put this large amount of water back into the aquifer and what is the funding source for such? How would such a large amount of treated water being reintroduced into the aquifer affect it and private home-owner wells?

-The Yelm City Administrator, Shelley Badger, has been responding to water issues for the City of Yelm like a technical hydrologist. Why does Ms. Badger have this responsibility and is she qualified to act in this capacity? Does the job description of the City Administrator encompass representation for the city in the capacity of a technical hydrologist in these matters?

-Should the city be using a non-local hydro-geological multi-national corporation (Golder Associates, Inc.) as a consultant in these matters; one who has no interests here?
Would it not make sense to have the city staff acquire the services of a more local professional to represent and protect the citys interests in this matter with the amounts of money involved; for example, an impartial third party to advise, check and supervise these contractual affairs (i.e. one might liken this situation to an architect or engineer that supervises a building project for a client)?

Bottom line: I would like to see these issues addressed on behalf of the City of Yelm property owner and taxpayer, in particular and area residents affected for generations by these actions. I believe Council member Isoms concerns are valid and warranted and should be sending a red-flag to our community to seek answers.

What say you AND what are you going to do about this matter?

What can you do?
You can write the City Administrator and request answers to these questions and others you might have, copying the Mayor and City Council.

You can also write the Nisqually Valley News publisher and demand they do an investigation for the upliftment & awareness of their community to get answers to these questions. After all, his newspaper won an investigative journalism award in 2006 by the Washington Newspaper Publisher’s Association for their work in reporting how many times a day my wife & I flushed our toilets in our home while I ran for mayor. smile. Their reporter was at the City Council meeting on January 9th and reported nothing about the SW Aquifer issue in the January 12 newspaper.


January 14, 2007

CITIZENS’ HEARING ON THE LEGALITY OF U. S. ACTIONS IN IRAQ

“The Citizens Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq will be held on January 20-21, 2007, in Tacoma, Washington, two weeks before the Feb. 5 court martial of Lieutenant Ehren Watada at Fort Lewis.. The Citizens Hearing will function as a tribunal to put the Iraq War on trial, in response to the Army putting Lt. Watada on trial as the first U.S. military officer to refuse deployment to Iraq.

Please help bring out the truth about the Iraq War by donating today. By helping the Citizens Hearing document the legal case against the war, you will help present the case for Lt. Ehren Watada–and for those who may follow his example. By highlighting the illegality of U.S. actions in Iraq, the tribunal can inform military personnel and other citizens to reflect deeply on their roles and responsibilities in an illegal war…

The Citizens Hearing will be hosted by The Evergreen State Colleges Tacoma Campus (1210 6th Ave.) on January 20-21, 2007. Please consult the Citizens Hearing at http://www.WarTribunal.org for the schedule and contact information. The Citizens Hearing Advisory Board includes Jeremy Brecher, David Krieger, Richard Falk, Nadia McCaffrey, Blase Bonpane, Bishop Gumbleton, and others. For more information about the case of Lt. Watada go to http://www.ThankYouLT.org,” quoting wartribunal.org


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