Wants living-wage jobs on waterfront

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDOctober 29, 2013 

What a deep disappointment to see two such intelligent and experienced candidates for port commissioner as Kowalczyk and Robbins bogged down in such weak responses to questions about the port's capacity to foster living wage jobs in Whatcom County. Kowalczyk's response to the idea of a living wage zone is especially pathetic: "Why would any business locate at the waterfront if they could have more autonomy by locating across the street?"

This is entirely the point of zoning for living-wage jobs on the GP site: why should we permit a business that will not even pay its employees a living wage to locate in a unique site that will cost taxpayers tens to hundreds of millions of dollars to make usable once again? Any business that will not pay a living wage should just go across the street. What will we get for our millions?

I believe these candidates are just playing the old shell game with us. When anyone says "jobs," they say "living-wage jobs" but when anyone says "living-wage jobs," they squawk "jobs!" Jobs, just any old jobs, do not make a community prosperous, they make it poorer: the facts are in. I believe the poverty wage jobs of low-end retail cost us all money and subsidize some of the world's richest corporations, like Walmart and McDonalds. These businesses' frontline people could not work for them without public support in so many ways. Why would we give them the waterfront too?

Robert Marshall

Bellingham

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