Monday, February 20, 2012

Whatcom Women's Democratic Club Feb. Meeting.

   reported by Bonnie Chisum

On a rainy Monday roughly 30 members and guests of the Whatcom Women's Democratic Club met for their monthly meeting at the Super Buffet at Cordata & Meridian in Bellingham." 

Mayor Kelly Linville  described a very active first 60 days in office as Bellingham mayor.  The mayor visited over 31 City of Bellingham worksites over a 4 day period,  to obtain feedback on current projects.  “Many workers claimed they had not seen a mayor in over 4 years!”   Linville promised to continue these visits.

Mayor Linville is focused on improving the efficiency of City government. Department head meetings will take place weekly to eliminate the scattershot effect of the previously disjointed self contained departments that failed to communicate city business. With restructuring in the municipal government David Webster has stepped down as Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to resolve a duplication of efforts by Mayor Linville. The Neighborhood Advisory Committee – lead by Linda Stewart and Nicole Oliver - has also been restructured to facilitate communication between various groups.

Mayor Linville believes the changes in the City Government buildings to include a central place for constituents to bring questions, concerns and city business will improve operational efficiency. Previously citizen had to navigate a maze of departments. The central office will reduce extraneous interruptions to the city staff’s project work caused by frequently redirecting individuals to the right department. Linville gave a mixed report on the success of balancing the city budget. the budget does balance, minus the unfunded liabilities for pension and disability of $41 billion.

Conflicting appointments allowed only 15 minutes for Mayor Linville to speak, but she promised to spend more time with us in the future.

Judicial Candidate Deborrah Garrett

  • Local Attorney and Candidate for Whatcom County Judge.
  • In practice for over 33 years Deborah ran for Superior Court seat 20 years ago.
  • General practice includes criminal law, civil litigation and non-profits.
  • Performed pro-bono legal work for Women Care Shelter, YWCA and other worthy causes.
  • Served for many years on the Planning Commission in Whatcom County and is a longtime Bellingham resident.

“Running for judge is a challenge” said Garrett, “Because unlike other political offices, judicial candidates need to maintain impartiality on important issues that could later come in front of them in court. “ Garrett is allowed to seek formal Endorsements such as the one she was seeking at the Whatcom Women’s Democratic Club on Feb 13 and “ask for support” in lieu of formal solicitations standard in other campaigns. To give us an idea of the cost of a successful campaign, Garrett said that a primary bid costs between $30-40, 000 and then an additional $20,000 to proceed from Primary to General Election, bringing the conservative estimate up to $60,000 for a general election bid.

Planned Parenthood lobbies for Same Sex Unions and Reproductive Parity Legislation

Third up to the podium, but certainly the most animated and controversial presentation of the luncheon was a visit from Christina Wright of Planned Parenthood.  Ms Wright told recounted the funding controversy between PP and the Susan J Komen Foundation.  

By way of back story, Ms Wright shared with us that 19 PP Whatcom County affiliates had received funding from the Komen Foundation (famous for breast cancer awareness charity work) to promote Breast Health Education programs aimed at high risk minority women who often lacked any other access to such materials (i.e. uninsured populations who don’t see doctors).  A revision of policy and political pressures caused Komen Foundation to allegedly defund any organization it supported that was under any federal audit or investigation.  

Naturally as a recipient of federal funds, Planned Parenthood’s finance and operations are completely transparent and constantly scrutinized and audited.  Any organization that receives federal money is subject to the same routine audits.  Komen’s withdrawal of support was deemed by Planned Parenthood as a thinly veiled attempt to punish PP for providing contraception and abortion services to women, despite contrary evidence that PP is only accountable to roughly 5% or less of abortions provided to women.  

Komen’s action went viral in the social media community and within 72 hours an estimated $3 million was raised in support of Planned Parenthood.  Under such extreme pressure and negative publicity Komen reversed its decision and restored funding to PP.  As an aside, Ms Wright mentioned that, “Penn State University received $3.5 million in federal funds while being under Criminal Investigation, so surely Planned Parenthoods’ routine audits should be a non-issue.”  

Passed around was information regarding new legislation for reproductive parity.  

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