My family attended the National Lentil Festival this weekend. This annual tradition is one of the highlights of our year, along with the Fourth of July celebration at Sunnyside Park.
As I sat on the curb in front of Bank of America on a bright, beautiful Saturday morning watching the Cub Scouts, Ritzville Royalty and Tase T. Lentil march by in the Little Lentil Sprout Parade and Grand Parade, I thought: "This is just like a Norman Rockwell painting. We are so lucky to live in Pullman." I don't know how some can say that Pullman's "charm and friendliness have been eroded over time." I can't imagine anyone running for public office would espouse such a view, but more on that later.
Walking around the street fair Friday night, I was surprised to find the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development's booth mixed in amongst the kettle corn and the world's biggest bowl of lentil chili.
You remember PARD. This is the group that claims it hasn't had a fair chance to make its views heard. Well, they got yet another chance in front of several thousand people without any opposing viewpoints. The Pullman Chamber of Commerce must have held its nose and let them have a spot, because everyone in America has to be treated equally. There's a lesson to be learned there I think, but I'm sure PARD missed it.
There was all the usual PARD propaganda, including a scrapbook with every newspaper article on the Pullman Wal-Mart, a photo that negatively exaggerated what Wal-Mart will do to the local landscape (conspicuously absent was the exterior plan that Wal-Mart submitted, available at City Hall, which is very nice), pamphlets, and a poster on the wall that listed the "top 10 reasons to oppose the Pullman Wal-Mart Supercenter." That poster was so full of falsehoods and untruths that it merits its own post. I will only say that PARD continues to embrace the almost laughable strategy of saying Wal-Mart is evil and destructive, and yet defending the one in Moscow ("One Wal-Mart is Enough!"). One reason not have a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman, according to PARD, is that one is being planned for Moscow. Huh? Politics really does make strange bedfellows.
For a group playing the role of "David" to Wal-Mart's "Goliath,", PARD's slingshot looked awfully high-tech and powerful to me. They have their own logo, with their website listed, bumper stickers ("We can find a better neighbor"), buttons ("No Wal-Mart"), and enough PhDs to open a small college. Yeah, PARD is going to find us a "better" retailer, just like O.J. is still looking for the real killers.
PARD also had out the infamous petition that "proves by every academic standard" that 3/4 of the town opposes Wal-Mart, despite the fact that when I looked at the petition, every third or fourth signature was from Moscow, Spokane, Rosalia, Garfield, or somewhere else. I still need the reasoning behind that explained to me. And of course, they had the hat out, solicting contributions for their legal fight.
Oh well, I'm still glad we live in America where we have freedom of speech. Norman Rockwell made a wonderful painting of that too, with a man standing before his neighbors and voicing an opinion, the very heart of democracy. Perhaps PARD realizes Wal-Mart supporters have that same right. I'm not holding my breath.