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Thread: Port of Bellingham Public Use Policies and Procedures

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    Port of Bellingham Public Use Policies and Procedures

    I hope I'm not doing something wrong but I recently posted in the Whatcom County OC thread about the Port of Bellingham Public Use Policies and Procedures which disallow firearms on public property managed by them. I thought that maybe the other thread was not the correct place to discuss the issue so I am starting a new thread here.

    Someone also asked, in that thread:

    "Is the Port of Bellingham a "Cities, towns, counties, and other municipalities" as required by the state law or is it a state or federal agency?"

    I still don't know the answer to that question but I did find this:

    "The Port of Bellingham is a countywide independent special purpose government located in Whatcom County overseen by three nonpartisan elected commissioners. It was created by a countywide vote in 1920. From a beginning focused mainly on increasing shipping on the Bellingham waterfront, the port has expanded into a multi-purpose government with operations in Bellingham, Blaine and Sumas. The port supports economic development throughout Whatcom County.
    An independent county-wide government, the port operates all of Whatcom County’s transportation terminals, the two major marinas and a deep-draft marine terminal. The port also manages over 1,600 acres of public land with about 250 local business tenants. Port and tenant operations provide over 4,000 jobs in Whatcom County."

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    is it a city? No.
    is it a town? No.
    is it a county? No.
    is it a municipality? No.

    its a special district.

    is a government corporation outside of a city, town, county, or municipality. There are likely thousands of gov't corporations that are outside the city.town,etc. definition.

    in many states....libraries are special district, mosquito abatement districts are special districts, heck any group of people could get together to produce a special district as long as people vote to create it in many states.
    Last edited by davidmcbeth; 08-22-2016 at 07:54 PM.

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    "The Port of Bellingham is a government agency in Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington, United States which operates two large marinas, port facilities and the Bellingham International Airport."
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_of_Bellingham

    "Agency Rules and Regulations
    Washington Administrative Code (WAC) — Regulations of executive branch agencies are issued by authority of statutes. Like legislation and the Constitution, regulations are a source of primary law in Washington State."
    http://leg.wa.gov/LawsAndAgencyRules/Pages/default.aspx

    It appears to me that the Port of Bellingham may be under the direction of the governor/executive branch.
    Last edited by Grapeshot; 08-23-2016 at 03:27 AM. Reason: fixed
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    We were all "new guys" at one time or another

    I put together a bit of information for you to review at your convenience. You can kind of speed read through this if you stop at the red font.

    I do not specifically answer your question as it is my opinion and not really established by fact. The WAC and RCW referred to in the attached file seem (to me) to support your analysis.

    I believe the orange color font needs to be answered in order to ascertain a concrete understanding of the "local government" formed by the port district.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Whitney View Post
    I put together a bit of information for you to review at your convenience. You can kind of speed read through this if you stop at the red font.

    I do not specifically answer your question as it is my opinion and not really established by fact. The WAC and RCW referred to in the attached file seem (to me) to support your analysis.

    I believe the orange color font needs to be answered in order to ascertain a concrete understanding of the "local government" formed by the port district.


    ~Whitney
    Thanks, Whitney. I'm going to wait a few days and see if I get a response from someone at the Port. Assuming I don't hear from them, or their response is uhmmm, "evasive", what would the next logical steps be?

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    State Researcher lockman's Avatar
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    How does a creation of two political subdivisions of the state get the authority to place restrictions that neither parent are authorized to exercise?


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    A Port district is a municipal corporation, just like any other special district (fire, sewer, water, etc.), or any city or county. Municipality is another word for Municipal Corporation.

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    Regular Member Freedom1Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deanf View Post
    A Port district is a municipal corporation, just like any other special district (fire, sewer, water, etc.), or any city or county. Municipality is another word for Municipal Corporation.
    We have a winner

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    Campaign Veteran MSG Laigaie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deanf View Post
    A Port district is a municipal corporation, just like any other special district (fire, sewer, water, etc.), or any city or county. Municipality is another word for Municipal Corporation.
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The Port of Bellingham is a government agency in Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington, United States which operates two large marinas, port facilities and the Bellingham International Airport.


    Yeppers. They are a .gov agency and fall under pre-emption. A simple reminder email to the Port will suffice.
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Washi...66874943419858

    "Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the people's liberty teeth (and) keystone... the rifle and the pistol are equally indispensable... more than 99% of them by their silence indicate that they are in safe and sane hands. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference .When firearms go, all goes, we need them every hour." -- George Washington

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    Regular Member Freedom1Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSG Laigaie View Post
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The Port of Bellingham is a government agency in Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington, United States which operates two large marinas, port facilities and the Bellingham International Airport.


    Yeppers. They are a .gov agency and fall under pre-emption. A simple reminder email to the Port[S] will[/s] suffice.
    SHOULD suffice.

    Sent from my SM-G386T using Tapatalk
    Provision for free medical attendance and nursing, for clothing, for food, for housing, for the education of children, and a hundred other matters, might with equal propriety be proposed as tending to relieve the employee of mental strain and worry. --- These matters obviously lie outside the orbit of congressional power. (Railroad Retirement Board v Alton Railroad)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Freedom1Man View Post
    SHOULD suffice.

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    And time will tell. Some .gov's have a real tendency to fight constitutional and statutory restrictions on their actions quite vociferously!
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    Regular Member rapgood's Avatar
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    I would argue (and likely, successfully) that the Port is a branch of the municipality and, as such, subject to preemption (although, you never know how the specter in black will rule).
    Rev. Robert Apgood, Esq.

    A right cannot be lost by exercising it. McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025, 130 S. Ct. 3020, 3021, 177 L. Ed. 2d 894 (2010) (citing Near v. Minn., 283 U.S. 697 (1931)).

    Although IAAL, anything I say here is not legal advice. No conversations we may have privately or otherwise in this forum constitute the formation of an attorney-client relationship, and are not intended to do so.

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    Campaign Veteran MSG Laigaie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rapgood View Post
    I would argue (and likely, successfully) that the Port is a branch of the municipality and, as such, subject to preemption (although, you never know how the specter in black will rule).
    yeppers
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    "Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the people's liberty teeth (and) keystone... the rifle and the pistol are equally indispensable... more than 99% of them by their silence indicate that they are in safe and sane hands. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference .When firearms go, all goes, we need them every hour." -- George Washington

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    Quote Originally Posted by MSG Laigaie View Post
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The Port of Bellingham is a government agency in Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington, United States which operates two large marinas, port facilities and the Bellingham International Airport.


    Yeppers. They are a .gov agency and fall under pre-emption. A simple reminder email to the Port will suffice.
    I sent them an email using the Contact Form on the Port website on Monday and have not had a response. Where should the next email go? Or, do I need to give them more time?

    I was thinking one to each of the three port commissioners? If that doesn't work then one to the Whatcom County Prosecutor's office?

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    I was thinking one to each of the three port commissioners?


    Certainly to the commissioners. They are the ones with the authority to direct staff to change the policy. I wouldn't skip around writing to underlings - go right to the board. Also follow up at their next meeting during open public testimony time.

    If that doesn't work then one to the Whatcom County Prosecutor's office?
    Sure. Report a violation of RCW 9.41.810, which criminalizes violations of state preemption. You will be rebuffed, but it will give them something to think about.
    Last edited by deanf; 08-25-2016 at 01:49 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by deanf View Post


    Certainly to the commissioners. They are the ones with the authority to direct staff to change the policy. I wouldn't skip around writing to underlings - go right to the board. Also follow up at their next meeting during open public testimony time.



    Sure. Report a violation of RCW 9.41.810, which criminalizes violations of state preemption. You will be rebuffed, but it will give them something to think about.
    Thanks! Should I also be prepared to: have my property taxes triple, have black helicopters circling the house, triple the layers of tinfoil on my hat? :-)

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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deanf View Post


    Certainly to the commissioners. They are the ones with the authority to direct staff to change the policy. I wouldn't skip around writing to underlings - go right to the board. Also follow up at their next meeting during open public testimony time.



    Sure. Report a violation of RCW 9.41.810, which criminalizes violations of state preemption. You will be rebuffed, but it will give them something to think about.
    +1 And you will be rebuffed this prosecutor thinks he can give legal advise that is "more restrictive" than state law even when that state law specifically says you can't.
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

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    Campaign Veteran MSG Laigaie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zippoz View Post
    I sent them an email using the Contact Form on the Port website on Monday and have not had a response. Where should the next email go? Or, do I need to give them more time?

    I was thinking one to each of the three port commissioners? If that doesn't work then one to the Whatcom County Prosecutor's office?
    On the first, I would always go with overkill. Give them enough time to make it look obvious. Time is on our side grasshopper.

    On the second, no, I would not include the prosecutor for email. I would continue to send a "reminder" of their need to "update" the regs and postings they have which appear to be misleading , not only the public, but their own employees. I would , though, send copies to the Mayors office, and a copy to her attorney.
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Washi...66874943419858

    "Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the people's liberty teeth (and) keystone... the rifle and the pistol are equally indispensable... more than 99% of them by their silence indicate that they are in safe and sane hands. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference .When firearms go, all goes, we need them every hour." -- George Washington

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    Quote Originally Posted by deanf View Post
    Sure. Report a violation of RCW 9.41.810, which criminalizes violations of state preemption. You will be rebuffed, but it will give them something to think about.
    Not very likely that the state will indict the Port Commissioners. Nice thought, though...

    Of note, the Port of Bellingham is not under the auspices of the Bellingham Mayor. The Port of Bellingham was incorporated as an autonomous governmental entity in 1903. It is ruled by three commissioners who answer to the voters of Whatcom County. The Port is more akin to a "municipal corporation" than it is an agency of the City of Bellingham (I researched it and my previous comment that it is likely an agency was an incorrect supposition). As such, the more appropriate authority probably is the Washington State Attorney General (remember, they wrote an opinion on this very topic back in 2008).

    Also, this question was specifically addressed in Chan v. City of Seattle wherein Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals rendered a holding stating that cities are precluded from enacting laws or ordinances that purport to restrict firearms more than the legislature specifically authorized in RCW 9.41.300. When the City of Seattle appealed the loss in Div. I, it sought review by the Washington State Supreme Court. The Supreme court declined to consider the case. The Chan decision is in concert with the AGO's opinion.
    Last edited by rapgood; 08-25-2016 at 06:31 PM.
    Rev. Robert Apgood, Esq.

    A right cannot be lost by exercising it. McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025, 130 S. Ct. 3020, 3021, 177 L. Ed. 2d 894 (2010) (citing Near v. Minn., 283 U.S. 697 (1931)).

    Although IAAL, anything I say here is not legal advice. No conversations we may have privately or otherwise in this forum constitute the formation of an attorney-client relationship, and are not intended to do so.

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    Sent this out in today's mail

    August 25, 2016

    Port of Bellingham Commissioners
    1801 Roeder Avenue
    Bellingham, WA 98225

    Re: Port of Bellingham Public Space Use Policies and Procedures

    Dear Sirs:

    I note that the above-referenced policies and procedures manual contains a provision that reads:

    Firearms and Fireworks
    The possession of firearms in or upon any Port public space is prohibited, except those in the possession of authorized law enforcement personnel.

    Please be advised that this provision is in direct violation of RCW 9.41.290, which informs us:

    The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality. (Emphasis added)

    RCW 9.41.300(2) provides that cities, towns, counties and other municipalities may enact ordinances restricting:

    1. The discharge of firearms in any portion of their respective jurisdiction where there is a reasonable likelihood that humans, domestic animals, or property will be jeopardized; and

    2. The possession of firearms in any stadium or convention center, operated by a city, town, county, or other municipality, except that such restriction shall not apply to:
    a. Any pistol in the possession of a person licensed to do so under state law or exempt from the licensing requirement; or
    b. Any showing, demonstration, or lecture involving the exhibition of firearms.

    The Port of Bellingham was incorporated in 1903 and is a Washington State government entity; essentially a municipal corporation.

    On October 13, 2008, the Washington State Attorney General issued a formal opinion (AGO) on the question of whether a city has "the authority to enact a local law that prohibits possession of firearms on city property or in city-owned facilities." 2008 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 8, at 1. In addressing the scope of the state's preemption of firearm regulation, the AGO analyzed the language of the statute, the legislative history, and case law, and concludes that RCW 9.41.290 preempts the authority of a city "to enact local laws that prohibit possession of firearms on city property or in city-owned facilities." 2008 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 8, at 1. The AGO states, in pertinent part:

    To summarize, RCW 9.41.290 "fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation" and preempts a city's authority to adopt firearms laws or regulations of application to the general public, unless specifically authorized by state law. Accordingly, RCW 9.41.290 preempts a city's authority to enact local laws that prohibit possession of firearms on city property or in city-owned facilities.
    . . . .
    While RCW 9.41.290 does not preempt all city authority with regard to firearms, it does preempt a city's authority to adopt firearms laws or regulations of application to the general public, unless specifically authorized by state law. Accordingly, RCW 9.41.290 preempts a city's authority to enact local laws that prohibit possession of firearms on city property or in city-owned facilities.

    2008 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 8, at 1 (quoting RCW 9.41.290), 11.

    In Chan v. City of Seattle, 164 Wash.App. 549, 265 P.3d 169 (2011), when addressing the specific question of whether a city, town, county or other municipality may enact a law or ordinance that prohibits the possession of a firearm on public property, such as parks and park facilities open to the public, as Seattle had so attempted, Division I of the Washington State Court of Appeals held that, except as specified in RCW 9.41.300, or when a city, town, county or other municipality is acting in a “proprietary capacity for private advantage” (see Pacific Northwest Shooting Park Association v. City of Sequim, 158 Wash.2d 342, 144 P.3d 276 (2006)) (none of which is applicable here), except as expressly authorized by the legislature. As such, Division I held that Seattle’s firearms possession rule directed at conduct in public parks was in contravention to Washington statutory law.

    The Port of Bellingham attempts to prohibit possession of firearms in the public spaces it manages. As the plain language of RCW 9.41.290 states, and as held in Chan, the State preempts municipalities from enacting laws and ordinances regulating the possession of firearms in public areas. The statute states that the "state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearm regulation within the boundaries of the state" and broadly defines firearms regulations to include registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, and discharge. (Emphasis added). RCW 9.41.290 specifically addresses the limited authority of a municipality to regulate firearms wherein it states, in pertinent part:

    Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter.

    The Port’s policy that attempts to prohibit firearms possession in public spaces is ultra vires to its powers granted by the legislature, and is therefore in violation of statutory law.

    Please accordingly amend the Port of Bellingham Public Space Use Policies and Procedures to be consistent with the laws of the State of Washington.

    Sincerely,
    CARPELAW PLLC



    Robert S. Apgood

    Cc: Washington State Attorney General
    Rev. Robert Apgood, Esq.

    A right cannot be lost by exercising it. McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025, 130 S. Ct. 3020, 3021, 177 L. Ed. 2d 894 (2010) (citing Near v. Minn., 283 U.S. 697 (1931)).

    Although IAAL, anything I say here is not legal advice. No conversations we may have privately or otherwise in this forum constitute the formation of an attorney-client relationship, and are not intended to do so.

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    Smile

    Ha! That's almost exactly what I was going to say, rapgood! Seriously, though - thank you.

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    Campaign Veteran MSG Laigaie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rapgood View Post
    Sincerely,
    CARPELAW PLLC



    Robert S. Apgood
    Thank you for sending this message to those who need to see it. I always feel better after your review.
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Washi...66874943419858

    "Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the people's liberty teeth (and) keystone... the rifle and the pistol are equally indispensable... more than 99% of them by their silence indicate that they are in safe and sane hands. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference .When firearms go, all goes, we need them every hour." -- George Washington

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    Accomplished Advocate BB62's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rapgood View Post
    August 25, 2016

    Port of Bellingham Commissioners
    1801 Roeder Avenue
    Bellingham, WA 98225...
    You missed a few things, but...

    Great letter!

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    Regular Member rapgood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BB62 View Post
    You missed a few things, but...
    Great letter!
    Thanks to all for the kudos!

    Yeah, the letter could have included several more points. However, it was already almost 3 pages long, and we try to say only the absolutely necessary things we need to to make our arguments. Otherwise, when our writings start to lengthen, we lose the interest of our readers. Losing their interest can be the kiss of death to our point because all the readers then remember is that they got tired of giving us their attention.
    Rev. Robert Apgood, Esq.

    A right cannot be lost by exercising it. McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025, 130 S. Ct. 3020, 3021, 177 L. Ed. 2d 894 (2010) (citing Near v. Minn., 283 U.S. 697 (1931)).

    Although IAAL, anything I say here is not legal advice. No conversations we may have privately or otherwise in this forum constitute the formation of an attorney-client relationship, and are not intended to do so.

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    Accomplished Advocate color of law's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rapgood View Post
    Thanks to all for the kudos!

    Yeah, the letter could have included several more points. However, it was already almost 3 pages long, and we try to say only the absolutely necessary things we need to to make our arguments. Otherwise, when our writings start to lengthen, we lose the interest of our readers. Losing their interest can be the kiss of death to our point because all the readers then remember is that they got tired of giving us their attention.
    Judges have a hard time staying focused beyond 4 pages also.

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