July 3 I sat on the floor of the packed City Council chambers to hear public comments on the council's authorized lawsuit challenging Proposition 2, the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights. I stood to speak too late as the council called comments to a close near 10:30 p.m.
I am a research biologist, I study climate impacts, and I teach at Western. I would have pointed out: we are not lacking in science, we know the risks of coal export. In Bellingham, we also do not lack public will, as 10,000-plus signatures and packed chambers attest. What we need are people in power who are willing to bear some risk.
I assume that the council members hold their jobs because they believe our system can still absorb positive change. Had I reached the mike, I would have asked them to demonstrate this capacity through their own actions; to bear the risk of the broader and important conversation that Prop. 2 has fostered. At best, they have the opportunity to demonstrate leadership and actively participate in that conversation. At minimum, they can choose not to stand in the way. At worst, as is the case now, they can use their authority to prove the point that proponents of Prop. 2 are making: that our existing system is so hopelessly timid and captured by entrenched power that extralegal approaches are the only viable resort. Our community has worked for and deserves a more courageous choice.