John Lesow, B.Sc, J.D. has lived in the Pacific Northwest since 1978. Prior to retiring in 2013, he was Western Territory Manager for Cascade Canada Material Handling Products and resided in Point Roberts. He served two terms on the Whatcom County Planning Commission from 2005-2013. He is a past Board Member of the Whatcom Humane Society and Treasurer of the Washington Press Association. (WPA) He is the recipient of (7) Communicator of Excellence Awards from the WPA for published articles on a wide variety of subjects, including Land Use, Tribal Casinos, entertainment profiles and automotive commentary.
A dual citizen, he now lives in North Vancouver, B.C.and is a contributing member of the North Shore Writer’s Association.
Some Personal Experiences with Censorship in Whatcom County – And Some Suggestions for 2021
What follows is an account of my own personal experience with the consequences being a conservative Contributing Writer at Northwest Citizen, “The Oldest Political Blog in the United States”.
Three years ago, on January 17, 2018, myself and (4) other Whatcom County writers that supported Donald Trump were asked by John Servais to submit a few paragraphs on Trump’s performance after one year in office.Servais, the Editor and Publisher of the NW Citizen blog, assured the utmost secrecy as to the identity of the writers. (See link)
I did not ask for the anonymity that Servais guaranteed. I figured that as a Contributing Writer at NW Citizen, my views were open to the debate provided online by Northwest Citizen to everyone.
As 2018 rolled along into 2019 and beyond, I found the particular brand of anti-conservative bias at Northwest Citizen became more strident and unfocused. This was despite the fact my articles, which were mostly apolitical, included:
–Two articles on Justin Trudeau and the implications of Canadian oil prices at the gas pumps in both Whatcom County and the B.C. Lower Mainland.
–A review of a presentation by liberal MSNBC commentator Ali Velshi on “The Weaponizaton of Culture” delivered in Vancouver, BC. at a sold out forum at the Orpheum Theatre. The program was sponsored by the Peter Wall Institute, which vetted my article and approved it, as written, prior to my submitting it to NW Citizen.
–An article on a faith-based criminal justice program in Vancouver, “Circles Of Support and Accountability” which had been used successfully in reintegrating paroled felons into the community. I participated as a counselor in the program and provided a first hand account of it’s efficacy. Interestingly, the COSA program is also used in the United States in California and Oregon, but has failed, so far, to get much support in Washington.
–A review of Candidate’s Night in Point Roberts, which included a video tape of the entire proceeding and real time responses to questions from Whatcom County Candidates for County Council, County Prosecutor, Public Utility District and County Auditor.
Throughout this time, anyone wanting to review these and other articles could do so by visiting www.nwcitizen.com and clicking on “John Lesow” from the 30 plus writers listed on the masthead. Comments, pro and con, were welcome.
That all changed on October 17, 2018 when I submitted an article on the legalization of marijuana in Canada, marking the day that pot became legal across Canada.
What to do to rectify the censorship ? I was advised by my attorney, Seth Fleetwood, that rather than spending time and money taking the matter to court (which I was prepared to do) I should contact the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center and schedule a meeting with Servais to mediate the matter. An expeditious and relatively inexpensive alternative. When a dispute is mediated, both sides are permitted to bring witnesses to testify on their behalf. https://www.whatcomdrc.org/aboutthewdrcI scheduled a meeting, paid the fee for registering the dispute and had the Center contact Servais. He refused to attend. Following his refusal, I scheduled another meeting with Servais and his LLC, including Dick Conoboy and Deb Gaber. All refused to attend. Too bad. I had several local writers who had agreed to testify on my behalf. Including Jack Petree, Tim Johnson, Riley Sweeney and Wendy Harris. It would have been a very enlightening meeting.