Al Krause

Vote for Darcy Burner

 Birch Bay Issues, Politics  Comments Off on Vote for Darcy Burner
Jul 302012

How you get ahead in this society: You’re born in Alaska and adopted by a family in Nebraska. The father had enlisted in the Army after high school. The mother, who already had two sons, wanted a girl. But Darcy was a tom-boy geek. (A second daughter was a girl-girl, now a nurse.)

Darcy applied to Harvard and worked her way to a degree in computer science. Then to Seattle and Microsoft where she wrote code and rose to become manager of a significant project and a successful product.

When Darcy decided to run for office she went to see one of the oracles of the Congress who told her to concentrate on fundraising. Instead, Darcy Burner joined a number of significant organizations including the Afghanstan Study Group whose report on ending the war was endorsed by Republicans as well as Democrats.

A few weeks ago, Burner was impressive as keynote speaker at the Netroots Nation conference. More impressive than Elizabeth Warren, running for the Senate in Massachusetts. Darcy has been going around the new 1st Congressional District with Retired Major Gen. Paul Eaton, who was a leader in Iraq. Recently they talked at the Blaine Senior Center about the cost of the Afgahanstan war in money and lives. Here’s a summary in a devastating New Yorker article – July 9-16 issue – by Dexter Filkins who was co-winner in 2010 George Polk award for coverage of this war:

After 11 years, nearly two thousand Americans killed, sixteen thousand Amerricans wounded, nearly four hundred billion dollars spent, and more than twelve thousand Afghan civilians dead since 2007, the war has come to this: mission not accomplished.

Burner and Eaton note that 80 percent of Americans are against this war, as measured by opinion polls. They argue the end should be now rather than 2014, as the President has projected.

The trend in TV ads and direct mail is for candidates to keep the message simple, easy to understand by children of all ages. Examples are the mailing pieces we are getting daily from Suzan DelBene and Laura Ruderman. Darcy Burner’s brochure is a small book that covers the major issues.

The 1st Congressional is a district that was structured – not gerrymandered – for an equal contest. There are six Democratic candidates.

With phone calls and knocking on doors we have been surveying voter attitudes. Many are disgusted with the lack of substance. Darcy Burner is a candidate who is showing the way to better politics.


Nosin’ Around for News

 Birch Bay Issues, Food  Comments Off on Nosin’ Around for News
May 102012

The new Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro will open in about a month in the building we know and love as the “Blue Fish.” This according to Mr. Yoon, the proprietor, who I met Wednesday evening. He was working hard and sweating from cleaning the place up but smiling as he pointed to the liquor license application on the door.
But the picture is bleak at the Beach House that many are wistfully calling Stefanie’s again. I’m hearing that, if new management doesn’t appear soon, the season will be lost. A former employee explained that when Wynstra folded the leasing company pulled out all the equipment and that will take time to replace.
Down the drive, the CJ Wijns space was purchased by ‘Grand Bay’ condo owners who are advertising for an operator. There, too, nothing is left – including that nice furniture.
Word is the golf course is an impossible situation because the high cost of water to keep the grass alive could never be covered by green fees.
Turning to the beach, we understand Birch Bay and Blaine have been separated in a petition by ReSources to require participation in stormwater permit requirements. There was consideration that Blaine does not have enough population to be included but that, we understand, has been resolved. This is a WIN for the folks who run the Blaine city government – Dept. of Ecology pressure will enhance their stature of having the 97th worst polluted body of water in the state.

New Precinct Map

 Birch Bay Issues, Politics  Comments Off on New Precinct Map
May 072012

This map shows the new precinct alignment; you should have received a card from the Auditor that states which precinct you are now in. We’ve circled all those that relate to Birch Bay. Parts of some are outside the existing Urban Growth Area. Because we are “county,” the precinct delineation process made no effort to fit the new lines into the UGA as was done with cities. The Birch Bay Community Council will want to deal with this when the growth plan is reviewed.

Comments are encouraged.

How to address your Congressman

 Birch Bay Issues, Politics  Comments Off on How to address your Congressman
May 022012
At the February OFA convention in Everett, Congressman Rick Larsen was asked how to communicate with him.

Write me directly; I tell my staff to pay more attention to an e-mail from an individual constituent than to one forwarded by 500 people, is the gist of what he said.

In a remarkably thoughtful talk, Larsen went on to discuss the importance of the contest for the refigured Congressional District 1 seat as one of three Washington Democrats need to win to take back the House.

Having run against John Koster twice and beaten him twice, I don’t think he’s a good fit for that new district,” said the Congressman. (Observers suggest that Koster, a Snohomish County commissioner and a Tea Party favorite, is more right wing than most voters in the southern end of the district.)

In what seemed more reality than a prediction, Larsen said the field of Democrat candidates for District 1 – are there now five or six? – needs to be narrowed by the filing deadline of May 18. He recently endorsed Suzan DelBenne.

Can Persuasion Prevent Legal Action?

 Birch Bay Issues, Environment  Comments Off on Can Persuasion Prevent Legal Action?
Apr 232012
At the last Wednesday meeting of the BBWARM advisory board, sitting as a Shellfish Protection District, George Boggs, executive director of the Whatcom Conservation District, and Rachael Vasak presented their plan to improve water quality in Terrell Creek and Birch Bay.
Ms. Vasak, who is popular in the community as Executive Director of NSEA, the Nooksak Salmon Enhancement Association, has been interviewing landowners in the Terrell Lake basin and other areas of possible pollution of Terrell Creek and found that most don’t have concern for clams in the bay and don’t think leaking septic systems or their animal waste is important. So she and Boggs are forming an advisory committee to identify 30 owners for persuasion with modest monetary incentive. They cite Nancy Lee, as their guide. She is the principal of Social Marketing Services, Inc., based on Mercer Island, has been “Influencing Behaviors for Good” since 1993.
Meanwhile ReSources for Sustainable Communities is petitioning the state Department of Ecology to include Birch Bay (and Blaine) in national stormwater regulations that would put enforceable restraints on polluters. BBWARM relies on voluntary compliance. Doggie bags are available at key points but if a dog poops on the beach the owner might get yielled at by clam diggers, but no sheriff’s citation.
Ms. Lee’s website (www.socialmarketing has a long list of persuasion accomplishments including Storm water Runoff, EPA and Seattle Public Utilities; Natural Yard Care, King County Department of Natural Resources and Seattle Public Utilities; Leaking Toilets, Seattle Public Utilities; Proper Disposal of Grease and Cooking Oils, City of Victoria, B.C. But she’s not fervent, noting that a law was necessary to stop texting while driving when persuasion failed. 
Boggs and Vasak have grants totalling a million dollars. Don Monfort, BBWARM’s math whiz and chief cynic, noted that is $33,000 per persuasion tartet. Ms. Lee counters that if a significant number of those 30 change their ways, others will be persuaded. How do you compute that?


Popular Rain Barrel Workshops Offered Again this Year–For Free

 Birch Bay Issues, Environment  Comments Off on Popular Rain Barrel Workshops Offered Again this Year–For Free
Apr 182012

Saturday April 28, 9:30 – 11:30
Tuesday May 22,
6:00 – 8:00
Attendees get a free rain barrel – a $100 value.

Necessary hardware and other accessories cost less than $30 at Pacific Building Center. After your first barrel is set up you are offered a second free barrel with a connector.

This program was conceived, and is presented, by Ingrid Enschede, Whatcom County Public Works key person who supports BBWARM, the Birch Bay Watershed and Aquadic Resources management District, and Emily Resch, of the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District. The two organizations have matching objectives: BBWARM to limit pollution from storm runoff; the BBWSD, which has the lowest rates in the county, to limit water consumption.

“When people see how quickly a 55-gallon fills up during a rain storm they will recognize how impervious surfaces, such as roof tops and paved driveways, increase runoffs,” explains Resch.
We have two rain barrels at our cottage. (One came with a new spout system. As an incentive, we were offered free dinners; we asked for a second barrel instead.) When we fill our sprinkling can with water from a barrel we take pleasure in not buying water for the garden – “we’re conservationists!”


Not so Much About Hurting Wallets…

 Birch Bay Issues, Environment  Comments Off on Not so Much About Hurting Wallets…
Apr 172012

… as about protection for business and home values in Birch Bay and improvement of water quality.

The petition to place legal controls on stormwater runoff by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities must be considered thoughtfully. What will be the economic results be if the Bay continues to be polluted;will recreational visitors and potential home buyers stop coming?

The petition to include Birch Bay and Blaine in the Western Washington Municipal Storm Water Permit, was produced by Lee First, prevention specialist, and Wendy Steffensen, lead scientist, of RE Sources. Here are excerpts:

“Birch Bay has also experienced shellfish growing area closures due to degraded water quality in Terrell Creek, the primary freshwater discharge to the bay. In 2003 the DOH [Washington State Department of Health] identified Birch Bay as a “threatened” shellfish growing area due to water quality degradation. In 1994, DOH noted the elevated bacteria levels in Terrell Creek as a potential threat to the shellfish growing areas adjacent to the mouth of the creek (DOH 1994). There is also 1 [sic] Category 2 (waters of concern) listing for fecal coliform, with additional listings proposed for fecal coliform and dissolved oxygen for the 2010 assessment. Again, it is likely that these parameters are associated with stormwater.

“Terrell Creek, which drains to Birch Bay, experiences low summer and fall flows, fish passage problems, and degraded instream and riparian habitat. Fish populations are declining in Terrell Creek. Poor water quality and low flows in the lower portion of Terrell Creek have been considered potential causes or contributors to fish kills in 2002 and 2007. The Terrell Creek water Quality Monitoring Report 2004-2009 concluded that temperature, DO [Dissolved Oxygent], and Fecal Coliform in Terrell Creek did not meet the WA State water quality standards for this freshwater creek (NSEA 2010).

“In response to the water quality issues, Whatcom County has established a shellfish protection district in Birch Bay. Ongoing monitoring by Whatcom County has shown that the majority of sites do not meet the standard for primary contact recreation and noticeable improvement has not occurred. (Whatcom County Public Works, 2010-2011)

“The Birch Bay UGA has the Birch Bay Watershed and Aquatic Resources Management (BBWARM) District, which is managed by Whatcom County Public Works. It is a self-taxing district that was established in 2007 to manage stormwater and address citizen concerns about water quality problems, flooding, and loss of aquatic habitat in the Birch Bay Watershed. The mission of BBWARM is as follows: To promote actions that reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff by decreasing the threat of flooding to private and public property and by improving and protecting water quality, aquatic habitat, and the quality of life that a healthy watershed provides. Despite the proactive efforts by this group and by Whatcom County staff, water resources in this area would be afforded more protections if the area was included under the municipal permit.“

BBWARM is a voluntary program. Some of the elements of the BBWARM program are similar to the requirements of the Permit. The requirements of the Permit are much more extensive. Some of the differences between what BBWARM accomplishes and what is required of permittees include, but are not limited to the following:
– The permit requires more extensive education and outreach,
– The permit requires an ongoing program to map, identify, detect, prevent, and track illicit connections,
– There are more stringent requirements for controlling runoff from new development, redevelopment, and construction than for BBWARM, and – Maintenance requirements, tracking, and reporting inspection of stormwater facilitities is more extensive for permittees than for BBWARM.”

Will the Whatcom County Council, which established BBWARM, agree?


We, too, Have Awards

 Birch Bay Issues  Comments Off on We, too, Have Awards
Jan 242012

For enhancing Birch Bay’s most-geinuine traditional business: Keith Alesse and Saara who, with Patrick and Patrica very much on the scene, are upgrading and maintaining The C Shop to be better than ever.

For creating a new event that brings visitors to Birch Bay: Tammy Pearce and Dave Bucknell of the Bay Cafe (in cooperation with The C Shop), who staged a day-long concert that brought many new – and younger – people to Birch Bay.

For demonstrating that it is possible to start a new restaurant in Birch Bay: Mike and Susan Gillern of Dee’s Country Diner – “Dee” is what the kids called their dad. They started out offering breakfast and lunch, now they’re open for dinner Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings until 9 o’clock.

For maintaining Birch Bay’s biggest draw: Iain Buchanan, manager of the Water Slides. Moreover, he’s bringing the new owners into the community. They sponsored this year’s Polar Bear Plunge.

For persistance, blended with patience, in keeping the Park & Recreation District 2 alive: Ted Morris, the president, and other commissioners, Jeff Carrington, Katy Montfort, Doug Robertson and Rich Stargell, spent their tax money prudently and are still in operation despite losing two levy votes. Now they are getting ready to try again. An open house where activities being offered will be show-cased Saturday, the 28th, starting at 10:30. Included is horse basketball in three age categories. Location is the Birch Bay Activity Center, the renovated gym in Bay Horizon Park.

Ted faces double pressure. As manager of Birch Bay and Peace Arch State Parks he must make do with a drastically reduced budget. The community is fortunate to have this solid citizen who combines concern and competence.

For keeping a somewhat nebulous program with slow results in front of the public: Ingrid Inschede, the County’s outreach manager of BBWARM, the Birch Bay Watershed and Aquatic Resources Management district.

For proving a steady hand in keeping the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce on track: John Gargett, the president who instituted a program to gain sponsors for a series of events that attract visitors – The Ring of Fire & Hope, the Polar Bear Plunge, the Sandcastle Contest and Discovery Days Arts and Crafts Festival with the parade and Ducky Derby.

For improving both the facility and the reputation of Birch Bay’s and Whatcom County’s best low-cost lodging, Ken Lord, manager of the Hostel and Guest House in Bay Horizon Park.

For moving a small business to a big building – previously housing indoor golf, then an exercise club – and creating a low-cost source of valuable clothing and household appliances: Susan Fisher of Birch Bay Consignment and Thrift. (Ruth’s winter outfit is built around a red sweater-coat for which she paid $7; last week we bought a CD player for $20.)

For tireless devotion to the needs of the community: Kathy Berg, Chair of the Birch Bay Steering Committee who operates a government in waiting. Highly visible for the e-mail reports of information important to citizens, she also works quietly behind the scenes. Recently, she has been doing this work with the help of Doralee Booth, her vice-chair. Now she has formed the Birch Bay Waterfront Group with six members to achieve the long-held dream of shoreline restoration with a berm. Permanent restrooms are included. Members of the group include Sunny Brown, Katy Montfort. Ted Morris, John Gargett and Brian Southwick in addition to Berg and Booth.

Considering this list of awardees, Birch Bay is a more together place than many realize.



Holiday Greetings from Birch Bay

 Birch Bay Issues, Travel  Comments Off on Holiday Greetings from Birch Bay
Dec 202011

The time has come to tell you how and what we have been doing in the past year. While we want to be humble, we are enjoying our life very much these days, so please excuse it this reads as “all about us.” Continue reading »