Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, July 29, 2005

This Will Not Stand

Overheard at the Pullman city clerk's office: a record number of people have filed for the city council elections this fall (half the city council is up for reelection). To me, this indicates that PARD might be plotting to take over the government of this city as they can't stop Wal-Mart any other way. This is the approach that is being taken by the anti-Wal-Mart group in Stanwood.

If so, it will not stand.

Between now and November, I will oppose any attempt to take over our city by this group of arrogant radicals. I call on all right-thinking citizens in Pullman to begin mobilizing now for the fight that may lie ahead.

These are the current incumbents:
City of Pullman; Ward 1 Pos. 7
Bill Paul (NP)

City of Pullman; Ward 2 Pos. 2
C. B. (Barney) Waldrop (NP)

City of Pullman; Ward 2 Pos. 1
Sue Hinz (NP)

City of Pullman; Ward 3 Pos. 5
Ann Cox Heath (NP)
If your council member is running for reelection, I suggest you contact them and pledge your support. The stakes have never been higher.


A reader has informed me that Sue Hinz and Ann Heath are probably not running again. Barney Waldrop was running unopposed as of 4:00 PM Friday, but a late filing challenger was expected.

Al Sorensen has thrown his hat in the ring (not sure what ward yet) and he has my full support. He is being opposed by someone who recently moved back to Pullman. The Vote Washington site for Whitman County has not been updated yet with a list of candidates. I will keep you updated.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Support Pullman Merchants NOT PARD

I'm sure many of you saw the "Their View" opinion piece written by Terence L. Day in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News over the weekend. I don't have time to post the whole thing right now. Grand Moff Tarkin and I are too busy working on the Death Star. Look out Montine Vona-Kenobi.

Mr. Day, the recently retired lead news writer of Washington State University's College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, gave PARD the thorough intellectual roasting it so richly deserves.

As you PARDners put down your dictionaries, ponder this: Why is there such resentment against you when there is no pro-Wal-Mart organization in Pullman yet (and yet is the key word)?

I'll tell you why. Your motley band of Johnny-come-lately Deaniacs, socialists, treehuggers and anti-changers have rekindled decades long strife between the town and the university that dates back to Pullman losing out on the Palouse Empire Mall. You can try to spin it all you want that the mall is ancient history, but then again so is this whole issue. The Wal-Mart site was zoned C-3 23 years ago, cemetery and all.

The more I talk with long-time Pullman residents and merchants, the more I hear about the mall and how they don't want that to happen again.

The best thing you can do at this point is immediately stop your SEPA appeals. If, by some miracle, you manage to stop or delay Wal-Mart, you would open up a serious rift between the university and the town that would do more damage than a Wal-Mart ever could. Believe me, there are many university faculty and staff that don't want that to happen. They support Wal-Mart for the good of the community.

The answer is simple. Either don't shop at Wal-Mart or move somewhere else.

Imperial Hubris

Hey Pullman, an article in the latest issue of the Seattle alternative paper "The Stranger" sums up how some Seattleites view us here in Eastern Washington. Some choice quotes:
"Let's get a few things straight: Eastern Washington does not run this state. The cities of the Puget Sound region run this state. This is not arrogance, this is simply a fact."

"Eastern Washington can't even pay for its own roads without sucking off the rich tit of our urban tax base."

"...benefit only the bruised egos of a minority of rural Washingtonians who have minimal political clout, wimpy economic muscles, and a grudge against big cities."

"For those in the east to now begrudge us a bit of their money to fix two of the Puget Sound area's most vital arteries is simply ridiculous."

"So give up on Eastern Washington. We don't need them in order to win an initiative battle."

"Tell people that a vote against I-912 is a vote against a bunch of economic leeches in the east who don't seem to care about helping our cities remain functional."
Yeah, it's not arrogance. Riiiiggghhhttttttt.

Do you need any more reasons to vote for I-912 this November?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

An Open Letter to T.V. Reed

If PARD's purpose was to bring individual attention to its members and to the fact that a Wal-Mart is being planned for Pullman, it has succeeded.

If PARD's purpose was to stop the construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter and sway public opinion, it has failed miserably.

Any effort to stop Wal-Mart from opening in Pullman was really doomed from the start. Pullman has traditionally had a hard time attracting business. Our retail dollars have been exported over the border to Moscow for years. As a result, Pullman has the lowest retail sales tax collections per capita of any similar sized city in the state. Combine this with the fact that WSU pays no property taxes and the recently enacted I-695 and I-747, and Pullman is now facing a real revenue crisis. Because of this, Pullman is probably one of the best candidates economically for a Wal-Mart in the whole country.

Other towns that have successfully fought off Wal-Mart have used zoning issues, city council decisions, and popular referendums. The zoning issue was settled 23 years ago, and the Pullman planning and development process, thankfully, has been depoliticized, with no provision for council or popular votes. The SEPA appeal will be heard strictly on the basis of the law, and PARD has very, very little chance of stopping Wal-Mart. The city and Wal-Mart both have scrupulously addressed all requirements. The best you could hope for would be a slight delay. Again, from Wal-Mart's standpoint, Pullman would have to be counted in the top echelon of potential locations.

Back in May, PARD held a press conference where you boldly proclaimed that you had won the PR battle against Wal-Mart by obtaining 7,500 signatures on a petition. Montine Vona-Pergola later breathlessly asserted in the Daily News that "by all academic standards" the petition proved that 3/4 of Pullman residents were against Wal-Mart.

The SEPA DNS comments put a quick end to your overblown rhetoric. The 75 letters against Wal-Mart only represented 1/100 of your petition signatures. The pro-Wal-Mart and neutral letters came out to 76 letters. A statistical dead heat, even after several months of PARD following the Al Norman playbook by organizing, meeting, petitioning, holding press conferences, writing letters to the editor, etc. I'm convinced the 75 anti-Wal-Mart letters are from the same group of people that packed the City Council chambers back on March 1 with tape over their mouths. Wal-Mart garnered 67 letters WITH NO ORGANIZATION IN PULLMAN AT ALL. And those 67 letters only represent the tip of the iceberg.

Your PR campaign has failed. In fact, it has backfired.

The local businesses you claim you are protecting don't want to be "saved". PARD has pompously presumed to know what is best for them and assumes their support of Wal-Mart is based on ignorance. This arrogance has lead to resentment, anger, and now, to action.

A majority of people in Pullman from every walk of life want Wal-Mart. They are local government officials and civil servants, WSU faculty and staff members, professionals, developers, realtors, managers, small business owners, high-tech workers, senior citizens, homemakers, and students.

So far, that majority has been silent, but not for much longer. You can expect to hear from them in the next few weeks.

At this point, you have two choices.

You can immolate yourself on the pyre of Wal-Mart or, if you are sincere about responsible development in Pullman, save whatever political capital you have left and move on to another issue.

If you persist in opposing Wal-Mart, against the will of the majority of residents, you are only going to succeed in opening old resentments between the town and WSU. Those hard feelings will linger long after Wal-Mart has opened.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Riding the Dead Horse to the Cemetery

I had hoped that the brouhaha over Wal-Mart and the Pullman Cemetery had “died down” so to speak. Then, there it was again, in a banner headline on the front page of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News yesterday. Michelle Dupler is apparently trying to do single-handedly what PARD seems to be unable to do: stop Wal-Mart in its tracks. And why not? The Daily News is a Moscow-based paper, and a Pullman Wal-Mart is the Moscow Chamber of Commerce’s worst nightmare.

She interviewed a WWII veteran and Pullman resident, Mr. David Flaherty, who stated his desire not to have the cemetery encroached upon by a Wal-Mart Supercenter. It was a tremendously bad piece of sensationalist fluff. No opinions were sought from those who have loved ones buried at the cemetery that might support Wal-Mart and there was just a rehashing of old news about the city’s preliminary SEPA ruling.

At least Mr. Flaherty knows people buried at the cemetery. I would be willing to bet that the vast, vast majority of people raising objections to Wal-Mart’s nearness to the cemetery have no friends or loved ones buried there. It’s just the only issue they have left that has any traction. I think that is just reprehensible.

With all due respect to Mr. Flaherty’s war service, just because some veterans are buried there does not give it the same significance as Arlington Cemetery or Normandy.

Speaking of Arlington Cemetery, I used to live and work near there. It is smack dab in the middle of a major urban area, with an interstate highway and an aboveground subway line running right next to it. Extraordinary measures have been taken to keep the cemetery quiet, but then there are the airliners flying overhead every two minutes.

The Oddfellows Cemetery off of Main Street on Sunnyside Hill is bounded by the Hawthorn Inn, the Hilltop Restaurant, the Pullman School District bus garage, and a Whitman County Fire Department station. And just, a week or so ago several thousand revelers got off buses and tramped through that cemetery and across the street to Sunnyside Park, as they do every 4th of July, to listen to loud music and even louder fireworks. I don’t recall any similar front-page stories or protests about respecting the reverence of the Oddfellows Cemetery.

Ideally, cemeteries would have parklands and open spaces around them, not for the dead, but for the living to enjoy peace and quiet while visiting a grave of a loved one. But Pullman has simply run out of room to grow. As Don Pelton so eloquently pointed out in his letter to the editor on Tuesday, the zoning issue was debated and decided 23 years ago. The cemetery has been around for some 100 years. Why do we need to re-fight those old battles again?

Look, the Pullman City Cemetery is not going to be bulldozed over to construct the Wal-Mart. No bodies are going to be disinterred. The trees are going to be left in place. Any unmarked graves will be found and respectfully re-interred. And of course funeral processions will have the right-of-way over shoppers. I don’t think those that once called Pullman home now resting at the cemetery would mind seeing it grow and develop for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Bring Down the Curtain on Pullman Political Theater

Many Pullman residents will remember the flap earlier this year when two WSU basketball players were accused of racially harassing an Asian-American female student. The players claimed they were simply mimicking a dance from a popular movie. Raucous demonstrations on campus followed, with students pounding on the President’s office door, fliers were distributed denouncing the two players as “racists”, and then there was “Uncelebrate Week,” with its finale “The Tunnel of Oppression” at Beasley Coliseum. A subsequent WSU Office of Student Conduct investigation cleared the two of any wrongdoing.

The Washington State Human Rights Commission released a 102-page report on the incident Tuesday . . According to the report, the incident showed “...an undergraduate penchant for revolutionary drama more than anything else...” The report went further in its indictment of the protesters: "Some students and apparently some of their mentors ... acted in fairly extreme fashion, sometimes with a significant failure of civility..."

The report claimed the "volume and heat" of student rhetoric may have alarmed the Asian-American community more than the facts of the case.

It concluded by rejecting the zero-tolerance and hate-speech policies proposed by some students on First Amendment grounds.

Unfortunately, we have another such troupe playing Pullman: the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development. The students and professors of PARD share the same penchant for “revolutionary drama” and extremism. I would even be willing to wager that many of them were also involved in the “racism” protests.

The WSU administration is not supporting racism on campus any more than the Pullman City Council is covertly aiding Wal-Mart.

It’s one thing to besmirch the names of two innocent young men, but now the economic future of our town is at stake. It’s time to bring down the curtain on all the political theater in Pullman.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Double Standard

A flap over the restriction of the words “Wal-Mart” and “moratorium” at City Council meetings has arisen in the town of Yelm, near Olympia. The ACLU has gotten involved and the issue has been publicized nationally. The ACLU claims that the constitutional right to free speech has been violated, but they don’t plan to sue the city.

Interestingly enough, the ACLU has not chosen not to get involved in another free speech matter that also arose in Thurston County. A judge there ruled that Seattle radio station KVI must report the airtime of John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur as in-kind contributions to the No New Gas Tax campaign. Even that stalwart of liberalism, The Seattle Times, was taken aback by that ruling, believing it will lead to regulation of the media.

Personally, I don’t blame the Yelm City Council. We have seen first-hand here in Pullman how fanatical these anti-Wal-Mart loons can be. A letter to the editor of today’s Summer Evergreen put it succinctly:
I’ve read – and written – some gibberish in my time, but I yield to Wiley Hollingsworth’s sermon (Summer Evergreen June 30, “Oppose Wal-Mart corporate empire.”) If that doesn’t make some of the anti-Wal-Mart folks who have been flooding the letters to the editor columns (Moscow/Pullman and Spokane) wonder who they are in bed with, nothing will.
Yelm City Attorney Brent Dille said: "It's the council's meeting. They can decide what they want to hear and what they're tired of hearing. You can understand if you're barraged for two months at meetings -- the same people saying the same thing." Sound familiar? It’s just the like letters to editor in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News for the last 6 months: the same old people saying the same old thing.

Certainly, the ACLU is no friend of Wal-Mart. But it is really showing its liberal bias by not acting in the KVI matter.

Bette Davis Eyes

A rather amusing letter to the editor from Michael Rutledge Riley of Potlatch, a language arts and civics teacher at Lincoln Middle School in Pullman, appeared over the weekend in the the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. I’ll quote some of the best snippets:
...I’m firmly against the idea of a Wal-Mart in our community. The reasons are the same as those hitting the pages of the Daily News opinion page ad nauseam...
Probably the most accurate thing he says in his letter. The anti-Wal-Mart letters are stomach-turning.
...just general heebeejeebees over anything corporate America...
That just about sums up the best argument Wal-Mart opponents can make, followed closely by: “Wal-Mart spreads cooties.”
...I like Pullman as it was when I came here in 1981...
Gee, 1981 was the year I graduated from high school. There are a lot of things I wish were still like they were in 1981:

My waist size
Gas prices
Top 40 music
Ronald Reagan as president
Music actually being played on MTV

But, alas, times change.
...with the real estate and consumer-related growth of the past few years, I’m not sure I’ll like it in 10 or 20 years...
I wonder if he will still like his job in 10 or 20 years. Because it is for certain that the new Lincoln Middle School would not have been built and that the Pullman School District would not be the quality system that it is today without the growth Pullman has experienced over the past few years.
...I find it appalling that an out-of-state business has more say in Pullman City Hall than concerned lifetime residents...
I find it appalling that an Idaho resident, whose salary, health benefits and retirement plan are paid for by the taxpayers of Pullman and the State of Washington, has anything to say about this at all.
As for the super-size supporters, local business owners and ordinary citizens alike who would prefer to have all of the amenities of Lewiston, Spokane, or Coeur d’Alene, I’d suggest that you might stop trying to morph Pullman into another shopper’s paradise and perhaps consider moving a few miles closer down the road to be next to your favorite outlet shopping mall.
I suggest the opposite. I think anti-Wal-Mart supporters should follow Mr. Riley’s example and move to a small town whose high school doesn’t even teach the foreign languages which are a prerequisite for admission to WSU and U of I. There are a variety of towns to choose from around here that are 25 years behind the times and that have no economic or residential growth. Your conscience will rest easier and it will help the housing shortage around here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Higher Learning

Most of the opposition to Wal-Mart seems to originate with WSU faculty or students. It would be easy to get the impression that the majority feel that way. But I'm happy to report that is not the case.

In a letter to the editor of The Moscow-Pullman Daily News published yesterday, Carroll Hayden, who is a retired staff member from the ASWSU Outdoor Recreation Center, has this to say:
Pullman is a unique, small-town community with a university student enrollment that is more than twice the permanent resident population. Consequently, there is a tremendous need for part-time employment for those 18,000-plus Washington State University students.

The Wal-Mart Supercenter would provide an excellent opportunity for part-time employment for high school students, WSU students and area citizenry, as approximately 100 job positions will be available for part-time employment.

Since Pullman is a very limited part-time employee market, these additional employment opportunities are a crucial community necessity, with increased enrollments and rising educational expenses for students attending our beloved university. WSU students have access to campus medical insurance so they would not need employer insurance coverage. Indeed, Wal-Mart seems like a great mesh with our transient student population.

Washington state's minimum wage is currently the highest in the country. At $7.35 an hour a 15-hour work week would provide a monthly income of nearly $450 which would certainly help part-time employee students pay the rent or purchase textbooks.

The Wal-Mart Supercenter also could provide an educational retail laboratory for practicum and internship experiences for WSU College of Business and Economics students.

Wal-Mart has the potential for being a prominent university educational partner as well as a welcome source of retail-career hands-on training for many deserving students.

Our small-town neighbor has definitely survived the national-chain encroachment since there are significantly fewer vacancies in Moscow's downtown business area with their Wal-Mart and Palouse Mall businesses than in Pullman.

So let's roll out the Pullman red carpet for the Wal-Mart Supercenter to stimulate Pullman business.

Check out the architectural rendering at Pullman City Hall or the Pullman Chamber of Commerce. This attractive "big box" should complement its Safeway neighbor.
I couldn't have put it better myself! If the people that cared for Pullman really knew how hard it is to get ANY businesses to locate here, EVERYONE in town would be rolling out the red carpet instead of the duct tape.

Matthew Root Responds, Part 2

As I state in my profile, I am just a concerned citizen. I'm not a scientist, a journalist, or a land-use attorney. I'm not affiliated with Wal-Mart, the city , or any other group. I'm just an average 9 to 5 family man and that is the perspective I try to give. As an amateur, I am bound to make some mistakes. In the case of the Pullman City Cemetery, I smelled smoke, but apparently there was no fire.

Matthew Root has answered the remaining questions I had about the cemetery. I greatly appreciate his comments below. I think we all have a greater insight into what has been going on with this controversial subject than we have gotten from either The Daily Evergreen or the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. That was my intention. It was never my purpose to attack him personally and I apologize if it seemed that way. I can say with confidence that Dr. Root is very passionate about both his profession and the city of Pullman.

EDIT: Matthew Root is always welcome to share his very erudite views here anytime and I hope he does so.

Thanks to Dr. Root, PARD now knows that Wal-Mart is proceeding carefully with regards to the cemetery and this is really no longer an issue. I urge them to stop their attacks on Wal-Mart along those lines.
Thank you for courteous treatment of my response. When you make statements such as the one below, however, that is an attack on my character and my motives. I am a reputable business owner and I will defend the professional integrity of my company and myself.

"Could it be that Dr. Root's real issue with Wal-Mart is that the city didn't hire him as a consultant for the "historic and cultural preservation" part of the SEPA checklist?"

To answer your question on timing, Wal-Mart made a mistake in their original SEPA application. If their project is now delayed, it is only their own fault. Whoever prepared the application simply did an inadequate job.

The timing issue is one of fortunate coincidence. I paid little attention to Wal-Mart because I usually spend seven days a week and 10 or more hours a day working. I also spend a great deal of time volunteering on research projects. My neighbor -- yes Marcie is my friend and our back yards adjoin -- told me that Wal-Mart planned to develop to the north border of the cemetery. This seemed strange given the requirements of SEPA, so I did what I always do, and simply looked at the plat map of the city of Pullman. These maps are available on line and in the library, and it would have taken ten minutes to look it up and include it in the original SEPA application. A similar situation existed several years ago in Walla Walla, and the proper studies were not carried out beforehand, unmarked burials were dug up, and now it is still a mess, and I don't think that construction has even begun. It is always best to solve any potential problems before construction, not during construction. I did the city and Wal-Mart a favor by letting them know about this issue. Think of what a public relations nightmare it would have been if there are unmarked graves out there.

What PARD does is up to them and I have no connection with them. I gave Marcie the same information that I provided to the city, because she requested it.

No one should feel threatened because I brought several matters of historic fact and errors in the SEPA application to the attention of the city. I may have saved Wal-Mart both fines and civil penalties if graves are present.


Matthew J Root

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Independence Day, Pullman!

Go and enjoy the fireworks at Sunnyside Park tonight!

I will be on hiatus for a few days. We'll resume the lively discussion of current events in Pullman when I return.

God bless America!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Matthew Root's Response

Matthew Root has answered my post on the Pullman City Cemetery. He had originally responded in the comments, but I had to shut the comments section down as someone posted some derogatory comments about Dr. Root. I want him to have his fair chance to respond. Contrary to what he thinks, this is not a personal attack on him. I simply have some questions. And he has graciously answered some of them.
I am Matthew Root and this anonymous, personal attack upon me and my motives in providing information to the City of Pullman about the City Cemetery is shameful and cowardly. I regularly work with developers so that they can obtain their construction permits and proceed with their projects. Contrary to the writer's uninformed critique of my motives, in writing Mark Workman about the cemetery, I ensured that my company would NOT be hired because it would have the appearance of a conflict of interest. Furthermore, the developer, not the city hires cultural resource consultants, and I have no interest in being hired for this project. It is my understanding that Eastern Washington University will be conducting the study of the cemetery. They are highly qualified with expertise in historic cemeteries. They are a very good choice for the project and I commend Wal-Mart in hiring them.
Whether Mark Workman and the writer think that the presence of unmarked graves is speculative is irrelevant. The cemetery once did occupy ten acres of land to the north of its present location. This is a fact, not conflicting information on an old map. The map that I referenced is the Government Land Office Plat Map for the City of Pullman – that is the official survey of the city. No one knows whether any graves are present in this area or not, but it is a simple matter to find out, and that is why a survey is now required.

Perhaps the writer does not care if bulldozers destroy unmarked graves, but I, along with many of Pullman’s residents, do care. I wrote Mark Workman out of that concern, not because I needed a job. You may be interested to know that Wal-Mart is now required to conduct a ground penetrating radar survey of the ten acres in their planned development that were once part of the cemetery before construction can proceed. (Sonar, by the way, is used underwater and would be quite useless for the cemetery study.)

If no unmarked graves are discovered, Great! Let the shopping begin! If, however, an unmarked grave is found, it can be properly preserved and moved to a new location so that construction can proceed. I would hope that this would make everyone happy, even the ghoulish writer who seems so unconcerned about the dead.

At Rain Shadow Research, we are currently busy working cooperatively with many developers so that they can build golf courses, vacation homes, and river front housing developments. I often perform these studies for individuals and for rural counties at far below the going rates and without compensation for myself. I do this because I understand that SEPA and NHPA regulations are burdensome and that not everyone can afford the full price of such work. We have a long list of clients who are very appreciative of our efforts. These people understand the need to conduct archaeological surveys before development so that they do not unexpectedly disturb important historic sites and burials. I suggest that the writer contact Fritz Hughes at the Pullman Chamber of Commerce for a character reference for me and my company. I do not care whether there is a Wal-Mart in Pullman or not. They have every right to come to Pullman, and if some people don't like Wal-Mart, they can chose to shop and work elsewhere.

This uninformed and false attack upon my character is truly shameful. If you really have an interest in the cemetery issue and want to learn more about it, I invite you to give me a call at Rain Shadow Research and schedule an appointment. You apparently have our number.
I do still have a few questions left.

I am very interested in the timing of the whole "lost cemetery" issue. The letter to the editor below from Marcie Gilliland, PARD Co-Secretary, appeared in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, the day AFTER Matthew Root's letter appeared. In my experience, letters to the editor are never published that quickly and Ms. Gilliland never mentions Dr. Root's letter, only a neighbor that she chatted with several weeks ago. Ms. Gilliland used almost the exact same words as did Dr. Root (i.e. "non-Euro-Americans", etc.) No accusations though. Maybe he IS the neighbor she refers to in the letter. Just one of those things that make you go "Hmmmmm."

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a neighbor about how I had learned that trees around the Pullman Cemetery might be torn down for construction for the proposed Wal-Mart (Pleas refer to the blueprints with the city.)

From this accidental conversation, I have learned of several errors that the city and Wal-Mart have made regarding the assessment of this proposed site. I have learned that cemeteries can indeed be registered as historical places. I have learned that an intentional grove of trees built around a cemetery can be a historical landscape. I have learned that there is a 400-foot boundary difference between the 190 plat mats and the current maps of Pullman. I have been reminded of the fact that Wal-Mart does not care about the integrity of community, history, and enironmentalism.

I am very concerned about pre-1900 residents who may be buried in that cemetery.

In addition to the rich heritage visible in the cemetery itself. a hidden history may lay there as well. Oftentimes, non-Euro-Americans were not afforded complete, identifiable gravestones, such as Native Americans and Chinese laborers. These early inhaitants of the Palouse nay be resting outside of the known plat boundaries. Wal-Mart has repeatedly dug up and built over existing cemeteries (Colorado, Tennessee, Texas, and Vancouver, British Columbia).

I am now painfully aware of how one of Pullman's most sacred places might be altered, destroyed and otherwise shadowed by a behemoth super cemter that is sure to wreck many visual landscapes. I am wondering how long-time citizens in Pullman feel about this? I am wondering if those folks have been informed.

How can the city not demand a comprehensive analysis of this existing cemetery by way of sonar scanning the entire original plat map boundaries?
I'm sure Ms. Gilliland and I both appreciate Dr. Root clarifying the whole sonar versus ground-penetrating radar issue.

The Wal-Mart site has been zoned C-3 for 23 years now. Why hasn't the "lost cemetery" been an issue before now. Why wasn't it raised back in October of last year when Wal-Mart first announced its plans. Then the cemetery boundaries could have been addressed in the first SEPA application. Why wait until Wal-Mart released its SEPA application? This has delayed the approval process.

In any case, along with Dr. Root, I also commend Wal-Mart for their efforts. I hope he will write another letter to the editor to share the positive views he has posted here. Residents need to know that no matter the outcome of the survey, Wal-Mart will continue to take appropriate action and complete construction of their store.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Raiders of the Lost Cemetery

The following appeared in The Daily Evergreen on June 6:

...Matthew Root, president of Rain Shadow Research Inc., said Wal-Mart failed to mention the cemetery in their State Environmental Policy Act application.

Root said the SEPA requires certain environmental factors to be considered when developing, and SEPA has an environmental checklist for businesses to follow.

Section 13b of the WAC 197-11-960 Environmental checklist, titled, “Historic and cultural preservation,” states, “Generally describe any landmarks or evidence of historic, archaeological, scientific or cultural importance known to be on or next to the site.”

Root said he noticed under this section Wal-Mart’s application read something to the effect of ‘none known,’ and he wanted to make the city aware this might be an error on the application.

“Pullman City Cemetery is an important cultural resource, and it’s important to make people aware that Wal-Mart’s development may adversely affect this cultural site,” he said, “In my judgment, it seems that Wal-Mart has not considered cultural and historic preservation, but I do not know what their future plans are.”

T.V. Reed, Director of PARD, said this is not a PARD issue yet, and the group is waiting for a decision from the city...
Obviously, PARD has taken a stand on the cemetery, judging from the shrill and hysterical letters to the editor appearing in the Daily News about the cemetery, the latest comparing city officials to former U.S. Senator Joseph "Tail Gunner Joe" McCarthy for "violating a promise that the city cemetery would never be disturbed."

From early on, PARD has spread the rumor that Wal-Mart would cut down some trees surrounding the cemetery to build an access road. That rumor is ABSOLUTELY FALSE.

This is a typical anti-Wal-Mart tactic. Vermont, at one time, was the only state without a Wal-Mart. So once Wal-Mart started making inroads, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the WHOLE STATE OF VERMONT as one of its 11 Most Endangered Historical Places in 2004.

When a letter to the editor took PARD to task for shamelessly using the cemetery as an argument against Wal-Mart, Matthew Root responded in a letter published June 21 as follows:

...I am not a professor, a student, or a member of Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development (ed. Dr. Root modestly neglected to say that he obtained his Ph.D. in Anthropology from WSU in 1992.) I am a concerned, 19-year resident of Pullman. I wrote letters to the city of Pullman concerning the Pullman City - AOUW Cemetery and the possible effects of Wal-Mart's planned construction.

The cemetery once extended 400 feet north of its present location when it was established in the late 1800s. The marked boundaries of early cemeteries were often moved inward over time, leaving unmarked graves outside of the modern cemetery. Furthermore, it was common for Indians, other non-Euro-Americans and paupers to be buried just outside of marked cemeteries.

As I wrote the city, if Wal-Mart disturbs the ground just north of the present cemetery, they may disturb the unmarked graves of some of Pullman's earliest citizens. Wal-Mart is required by state law to consider the effects of its development on any places of archaeological or cultural importance that are on or adjacent to its development. It is also a violation of state law to disturb a cemetery. whether it is marked or not.

It is my opinion as a historic preservation professional that the cemetery has local importance. I simply requested the city and Wal-Mart follow existing laws and conduct the proper studies to determine whether a historic site and unmarked cemetery would be affected by Wal-Mart's construction...
Ahhh, the famous "lost cemetery." City Public Works Director Mark Workman didn't seem too impressed in the Daily News:
Workman said he isn't convinced there is a problem with the cemetery boundary.

"There's an old map that has some conflicting information on it, but that's speculative," Workman said.
I was intrigued. What exactly did Dr. Root and Rain Shadow Research do? They are listed with the State of Washington's Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation as archaeological consultants , along with about 43 other individuals/firms across the state. Cool! I used to think only Indiana Jones could make a living from archaeology outside of a university. But once I started looking at the ridiculously complex and politically correct State Environmental Policy Act requirements, I began to see why someone might need to hire an archaeologist.

It was also fascinating to note that there were no less than FOUR archaeological consultants in Pullman, including Dr. Root.

Could it be that Dr. Root's real issue with Wal-Mart is that the city didn't hire him as a consultant for the "historic and cultural preservation" part of the SEPA checklist? Could it be that PARD then seized on Dr. Root's discontent as yet another issue to throw against the wall and see if it sticks? Draw you own conclusions.

In any case, Wal-Mart has agreed to hire a consultant to conduct an underground sonar scan survey of the proposed site and address any questions concerning the "lost cemetery's" boundary. I'm pretty sure Dr. Root won't be getting that contract either.

Something Fishy About the New Gas Tax

Phase One of the new 9.5 cent gas tax enacted by legislators in Olympia last session goes into effect today. This first increment is 3 cents per gallon. It'll go up again each of the next 3 years.

Yesterday, I received the 9th District 2005 Legislative Review and Survey Results from Senator Mark Schoesler and Representatives Don Cox and David Buri.

The 9th Distrtict includes the counties of Whitman, Adams, Asotin and Garfield and parts of Spokane and Franklin.

Mssrs. Schoesler, Cox, and Buri inform us that one of the the reasons they opposed the recent 9.5% gas tax increase was that it will provide very little money for the 9th District, as I have pointed out previously. In fact the tax will provide less funding for projects in our district ($13 million) than for bicycle and pedestrian path projects statewide ($21 million over eight years) or fish passage barriers (nearly $19 million).

Think about that as you fill up your tank next time.

Meanwhile, Idaho drops its sales tax by 1% today. Coincidentally enough, Idaho also has the 6th fastest growing job growth in the U.S. Will the last business to leave Eastern Washington please turn out the lights?