Thursday, October 25, 2018

I’m voting. Should you?

I got my ballot in the mail and I’m sure you got yours, too. I’m going to vote but the candidates won’t know why I voted so I think it’s important that I say what I mean with my vote.

I’m voting for people who will move our city, county, state and country forward—not backwards to some nationalistic, jingoish fantasy. I want the people I vote for to stand and speak out for immigrants and Dreamers and walk the talk of justice and liberty for all.

I want them to stand with Black Lives Matter, to act on equal pay for equal work, to protect the rights of all genders, to say clearly to the bullies and abusers that No Means No, and to call out liars and obfuscators.

I want those I vote for to take legislative, regulatory and enforcement actions—not talk—to do what’s necessary to slow down climate change and ocean acidification and to help us prepare for a changed world.

I want them to take action – not talk—to make safe housing, healthy food and medical care a right--not a privilege-- for all people. I want them to make sure our streets, schools and businesses are free of weapons and violence, that every kid gets an equal chance for education, and that the poor and mentally ill are clothed, fed, housed and cared for.

Two years ago, I voted to make these things happen. What I got instead was people in power who fattened the pockets of the rich with a tax cut and dismantled affordable health care, greased the skids for fossil fuels and turned a blind eye to climate change, and declared xenophobic war on immigrant families and Dreamers.

This year, I’ll vote again--and, if you and I stand together on what we want this country to do and to be, please vote, too. Otherwise, don’t vote. 

--Mike Sato

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Waiting for the Tide to Turn …

Pete Haase

Guest blog by Pete Haase

It has been a pretty rough spring and summer for most of us volunteer folks who spend some of our time working to help protect and restore the Salish Sea - one bad news report after another.

Whales failing.  Salmon runs dwindling. Temperatures rising faster than previous forecasts.  Ice melting and seas rising.  Violent weather and fires.  Forest fire smoke.  Acid oceans.  Red tides.  Plastic-plastic-plastic.

Despite the periodic feel-good stories about this estuary expanded or that culvert fixed or more of those native oysters found, the overall picture seems worse and worse.

And the politics – aagghhhh.  Nationally it is a horror story and locally a circus.  Where I live, the update to the Shoreline Management Plan is in its 8th year of work and the “Clean Up the Samish” plan is in its 9th. 

It takes a 45-person task force many months to study and deliberate about whales not having enough food.  And it seems like almost every one of the 45 is being paid by their organization to be sure that whatever is proposed will not cause them pain and/or will promote their agenda.  What is so hard about “Get them Food” … or quit worrying.

I studied the upcoming Puget Sound Partnership Action Agenda and found hundreds of proposed “Near Term” Action Items that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, with plenty of other actions already ongoing and eating money.  Not a single one was for more outreach to the public about the BIG problems and needed help and actions.

I processed the text of the Action Agenda with an “Ease of Reading” tool and it requires in excess of 4 years of college education – probably specializing in Marine issues.

Did I mention that one boot is leaking?

Oh dear, oh dear.  Put my head under the pillow ….

But we can’t quit. 

Some of us are needing to make up for bad deeds of our distant past and others are needing to better care for the future of their children and grandchildren. 

We all understand “Think Global – Act Local.”  Many feel helpless about the big ocean garbage patch but are inspired to regularly patrol a local beach and pick up trash.  Tremendous amounts of all sorts of local environmental data are being accumulated through numerous “citizen science” activities, like trapping for invasive green crabs or counting herons foraging, with the hope that it will lead to enlightened change.

Our small actions continue.

I’m wondering how others feel and what they are doing to help turn the tide ….

Pete Haase is a Skagit County volunteer and citizen scientist who coordinates the Skagit Citizen Forage Fish Survey Team and serves on the Skagit County Marine Resources Committee and the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve Stewardship Committee.