sunset square starbucks
Photo of the same “Say No to Panhandling” sign located at Sunset Square shopping center in Bellingham, WA, that appeared in the live-streamed video posted on the Hearts & Homes Bellingham Facebook page

By Sandy Robson

February 24, 2019

Bellingham, Washington, known for its unofficial nickname, “The City of Subdued Excitement,” is also known for its fairly subdued winter weather — not too cold, not much snow, but with a pretty steady stream of rain. Sunday, February 3, 2019, brought unusually frigid temperatures to Bellingham and its surrounding county. Those below freezing temperatures were accompanied by several inches of snow that fell on that Super Bowl Sunday, along with power outages which impacted thousands of Whatcom County residents. Local schools were closed the following day due to the snow.

 

petrish collage Screen Shot 2018-10-19 at 12.22.53 PM
Top left: Michael Petrish, photo from michaelpetrish.com – Top center: Kris Halterman, photo from smllibertyroad.com – Top right: Elaine Willman, photo from gemstatepatriot.com – Bottom center: Tom Pasma, photo from tompasma.org – Bottom right: Rud Browne, photo from whatcomcounty.us

By Sandy Robson

October 20, 2018

The November 6, 2018, general election race for 40th Legislative District State Representative Position 1, features Democratic candidate Debra Lekanoff, versus Republican candidate Michael Petrish. Parts of both Whatcom County and Skagit County in Washington state make up the 40th Legislative District (LD). The district encompasses southwestern Whatcom County, northeastern Skagit County, and San Juan County.

 

Red Line Salish Sea banner on display at a September 30, 2017 march from Birch Bay State Park to Peace Arch State Park

By Sandy Robson

August 25, 2018

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office found itself in the news last month in a July 17, 2018 article published by The Intercept entitled, “The U.S. and Canada are preparing for a new Standing Rock over the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline.” In late May of this year, the pipeline expansion project proposed by Kinder Morgan Inc. was purchased along with the existing Trans Mountain pipeline between Alberta and British Columbia. The purchaser was the Canadian federal government.

danger sign sarbanand
Blueberry field at Sarbanand Farms in Sumas, Washington. Photo Credit: Krista Rome

By Sandy Robson

June 24, 2018

In a full courtroom in Whatcom County District Court on Tuesday morning, June 19, 2018, attendees heard Judge Pro Tempore Dave Cottingham agree to Sarbanand Farms’ request that the $73,000 penalty it was assessed by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), be reduced by half, to $36,500. The proceedings that day serve to raise significant doubt as to the ability of state and local agencies to take actions that would adequately identify and prevent abuse of farm workers employed by farms under the H-2A visa program. 

sarbanand farms sign

By Sandy Robson

April 27, 2018

Adding to the list of the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ (L&I) inspections of Sarbanand Farms in Sumas, Washington, in 2017, is another safety and health inspection I learned more about on Wednesday, April 25. Inspection number 317946364 was conducted by L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) after being initiated back in June 2017, although it was not mentioned in L&I’s February 1, 2018 press release announcing its findings from investigations at Sarbanand Farms which the department initiated in August 2017.

The DOSH inspection initiated in June 2017 did find that Sarbanand Farms had committed a serious violation involving an employee injury. 

Workers receive news about co-workers and Honesto
Remaining workers in the fields at Sarbanand Farms on August 5, 2017 listen to advocates telling them that some of their co-workers were fired earlier that day, and that Honesto Silva Ibarra was in the hospital. Photo Credit: Edgar Franks.

By Sandy Robson

April 23, 2018

In a February 1, 2018 letter sent to Robert Hawk, CEO of Sarbanand Farms, LLC, Deibi Sibrian, Industrial Relations Agent with Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) wrote, in part: