Coal-Free Bellingham: Bellingham City Council Wants to Deny Residents the Right to Vote on Protecting the Community from Coal Trains,
June 20th, 2012
MEDIA RELEASE: June 20, 2012
PO Box 5991
Bellingham, WA 98227
CONTACT: Rick Dubrow 360-319-3705
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On Monday evening the Bellingham City Council voted 6-0 to move on a pre-election challenge against citizen initiative 2012-2. The initiative, known as the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights, is asking voters to secure our community’s rights to clean air and water, along with prohibiting coal trains from passing through Bellingham.
The Council’s decision seeking to deny voters the right to pass or reject this measure in November was made on the grounds that the initiative is legally invalid because it addresses an administrative, rather than legislative, function of the city, and is therefore beyond the scope of the initiative power.
Coal-Free Bellingham, the sponsors of the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights, has followed every step of the citizen initiative process, including gathering enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, and believes the city is wrong in its claim.
“The council’s action is an affront to the rights of citizens to directly make law through the initiative process,“ says Rick Dubrow of Coal-Free Bellingham. “This is a right approved by Washington State voters over 100 years ago to ensure the people had the ability to make necessary laws precisely at times that their elected officials were unwilling to do so.”
The group submitted the signatures of over 10,000 citizens to the city on June 18th, 2012, more than double the required amount. The Whatcom County Elections office is currently in the process of validating the signatures.
Passing the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights in November would establish a local Bill of Rights, recognizing the fundamental right to clean air and water, to local self-government, and it would, among other provisions, prohibit the transportation of coal within the City of Bellingham.
Rick Dubrow, Chair
NO COAL! Political Action Committee