Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Astroroots, Not Grassroots

The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Develoment describes itself as a "grassroots" movement to stop Wal-Mart. They are in reality an "astroroots" group. "Astroroots" is a term used to describe corporate-backed groups that masquerade as a "grassroots" citizen's group.

A story on MSNBC a few months back stated:
A union crusade against America's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, has the potential to not only hurt the company’s balance sheet and alter Americans’ shopping habits, but also to change the course of the 2006 and 2008 campaigns.

Americans cast their votes not just on Election Day but every day, by deciding where to spend their money. And the United Food and Commercial Workers Union is urging Americans to not spend their money at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart has successfully fought the union's efforts to organize its workforce.

Now the union has recruited strategists from the 2004 Howard Dean and Wesley Clark campaigns, and they are mounting a crusade that goes beyond the usual union tactics, such as the boycott or shareholder resolution expressing disapproval of a company’s policies.

Paul Blank, who served as political director for the Dean campaign, is running the "Wake-Up Wal-Mart” campaign, and Chris Kofinis, a strategist for the Clark campaign, is the effort's communications adviser.

Blank and Kofinis are deploying election campaign-tested tactics to assail Wal-Mart: running petition drives and holding house parties, canvassing at farmers’ markets, stockpiling an e-mail list and conducting conference calls to marshal the efforts of local anti-Wal-Mart activists.

“We need a broad social movement to change this company,” said Blank. “This is a moral question about what kind of America we want to live in. Do we want to live in Wal-Mart’s version of America, where you drive down wages, don’t provide health insurance, provide no retirement security, ship jobs overseas and have complete abandonment of your values in the relentless pursuit of profit?”

“This is going to become a very important wedge issue that political leaders on Capitol Hill and across the country are going to have to face,” said Kofinis.
"...running petition drives and holding house parties, canvassing at farmers’ markets, stockpiling an e-mail list..." Does that sounds like anyone we know? So what connection does PARD have with organized labor anyway? Plenty. T.V. Reed, PARD chairman, "recently completed a new book The Art of Protest (Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2005) that retells the history of key US social movements from Civil Rights era to the current movement against corporate globalization using cultural forms (music, murals, poetry, drama, etc.) as lenses onto the movements." Nella van Dyke, PARD Petition Coordinator, presented a paper at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in 2004 titled “Manufacturing Dissent: Labor Revitalization, Union Summer and Student Protest.”

Need further proof? Check out PARD's entry on the Wake Up Wal-Mart site. Or this post and this one highlighting PARD and Pullman on Wal-Mart Watch's website.

So I think it's pretty obvious that this "grassroots" movement is just the Pullman franchise of a greater national left-wing movement against Wal-Mart, started by Al Norman, and now being run by organized labor and the Howard Dean wing of the Democratic Party.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in 2008. As we all know, Bill Clinton and Wal-Mart are the two biggest things to ever come out of Arkansas. Wal-Mart was a contributor to Bill Clinton's presidential campaigns as well as Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign. In fact, in the early 90's, Hillary Clinton even served on the board of directors of Wal-Mart. If, as widely expected, Hillary Rodham Clinton runs for the Democratic Presidential nomination, how will the anti-Wal-Mart jihadists like PARD react to her?

Washington GOP Backs I-912

Over the weekend, the Washington Republican Party Central Committee voted to endorse I-912. I-912 is the initiative on the ballot for November that will repeal the 9 1/2-cent gas tax passed by the legislature back in April. No New Gas Tax!, the organization that is supporting the initiative did not ask for Republican support, but was happy to get it. The Republican Party can can now contribute funds. The state Libertarian Party is also backing the initiative.

I'm proud my party for taking a stand. We discussed I-912 a couple of weeks ago at Whitman County Central Committe meeting, and everyone supported it. Several RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) from the west side did vote for the tax. Dino Rossi, the once and future gubernatorial candidate, has been non-committal on I-912.

The 9 1/2-cent gas tax only shovels more money into the hands of people in King County that have already squandered millions and millions on the monorail and other transportation boondoggles. And what do we have to show for it? Seattle was recently listed as having the worst public transportation system in North America. It's certainly not for lack of money. Washington has one of the highest gas taxes in the country.

We in Pullman don't need to pay for Seattle's waterfront beautification project (i.e. the Alaskan Way Viaduct) just because the "Governor pro tem" yells "Earthquake!" If an earthquake is such a concern, why hasn't the Viaduct been closed already. Why isn't some of that big tax surplus we just heard about being applied towards it? Why not make the Viaduct a toll road and let the users pay for it? Plus, this gas tax does virtually nothing to improve Pullman's roads.

Other states are putting a moratorium on their gas taxes in this time of national crisis and record high gas prices. Olympia is not only NOT suspending our gas tax, it is raising it. Talk about bad timing. I'm not against improving our infrastructure, but until the state shows they can spend the money responsibly and equitably and not on these pork-barrel, special interest (i.e. union) giveaways, count me out.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Out of Touch, Soon To Be Out of Mind

In a letter to The Daily Evergreen yesterday, T.V. Reed and Christopher Lupke of the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development stated:
Congressional and academic studies as well as reports in esteemed publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine and The Arizona Republic all enumerate the negative effects of Wal-Mart in communities like Pullman, negative effects such as undermining local businesses and draining social services that will undercut any taxes Wal-Mart brings into our community.
Dead wrong.

From yesterday's edition of the Idaho Falls Post-Register:
It's pretty hard not to notice, and I've had a number of questions recently about the steel going up on the north side of the Ammon Wal-Mart.

What it will eventually become is a strip mall. It is being built by the Klein Group of Coldwater, Minn. There's no word yet on possible tenants.

George Klomp, Ammon's building official, said the project, at 939 S. 25th East, was permitted nearly a year ago but put on hold until recently.

The company specializes in building strip malls near Wal-Mart supercenters. This one will be 36,550 square feet with an estimated value of $1.1 million.
And from a couple of years earlier in Billings, Montana:
A steady stream of customers and potential customers dropped by to check out the UPS franchise store when it opened Monday in the minimall at the corner of Wicks Lane and Main Street.

Clint Lunde, a 20-year veteran of United Parcel Service, and his wife, Suri, were the first to open their store in the latest minimall in front of the Heights Wal-Mart.

Lunde said one man who lives along Bench Boulevard was happy the store was open because he was eager to send a gift to a grandchild in Oregon.

"His first granddaughter is due in March and he's already sending the crib off," Lunde says.

The Hallmark Cards at Rimrock Mall is expected to open another store in two weeks in the retail center along Wicks.

And a third business, a hair salon called Great Clips, opens Friday in the mini-mall. Dennis and Nancy Stevens are the owners. Stevens' sister and brother-in-law started the chain in 1982.

Dennis Stevens built a heating and air conditioning business in Eagan, Minn., a suburb of St. Paul, and sold it for $30 million last year. He and Nancy retired to Luther next to his hometown of Red Lodge. But retirement didn't last long.

Billings was one city in Montana that didn't have a Great Clips, a national chain with 2,000 salons.

So, the Stevens opened two Great Clips last spring: One at Rehberg and Grand and one next to T.J. Maxx on Central Avenue.

The third store in the Heights will offer a grand opening special of $2.99 for haircuts, which are normally $8 for children and seniors and $10 for adults.

The two minimalls along Main Street were built by The Klein Group of Coldwater, Mich.
You're not going to find stories like this in a paper put out by Congressman George Miller's office. George Miller, you see, is a Democratic Congressman from the East Bay of San Francisco with a liberal record that would make Ted Kennedy envious.

You're also not going to find stories like this in academic studies. Liberal faculty in liberal arts/social studies programs outnumber conservative faculty 7-to-1 at American universities.

Nor will you find it in liberal MSM newspapers like The Arizona Republic, which has been leading the effort to embarrass the Pentagon over the Pat Tillman story.

As far as the "the esteemed publications" The Wall Street Journal and Fortune, they have both been singing Wal-Mart's praises as being the only lifeline for towns affected by Hurricane Katrina. So much for "enumerating negative effects on communities like Pullman."

But none of that changes the truth. Wal-Mart is a boon to local economies. Why else would there be a business that specializes in building strip malls around Wal-Mart Supercenters?

This points out one of the fatal flaws in the logic of PARD's arguments. They don't like "urban sprawl" and they don't like Wal-Mart's "one-stop shopping" model because it "destroys local businesses." Those two beliefs are inconsistent. If Wal-Mart worked the way PARD claims, "sprawl" would be eliminated. All other stores in town could be torn down and replaced with greenways, bike paths, trendy coffee shops, trolley lines, or whatever else they felt would be "non-sprawl."

It's actually the opposite. PARD (and the rest of the world) knows that no one does all their shopping at Wal-Mart. As seen above, Wal-Mart is an economic engine that creates even more businesses, which leads to "sprawl." So it's "sprawl" they are against. The "undermining local business" objection is whitewash to cover up how much they truly don't understand the average person.

Why are they so against "sprawl" (what the rest of us call growth and prosperity) ? This editorial from Daniel Henninger of The Wall Street Journal sheds some light on their mindset:
The first cultural contradiction of the Democrats is their alienation from the real economy. Democrats participate in the economy as lawyers, investment bankers, doctors, teachers and the like. Somehow, it's supposed to be more than mere workaday money-grubbing. But there is one career that would never enter the mind of most Democrats: Spend it working for Procter & Gamble. They'd go homeless before toiling as a middle manager at Procter & Gamble, which is "out there" somewhere. But this is what most Americans do, at thousands upon thousands of such companies spread from Pennsylvania to the border of California. No matter; in the Democratic Zeitgeist, it's all simply "corporate America," an alien blob of marketing types who have something to do with creating Wal-Mart, and other strange stuff.

These Americans don't live in the average Democratic mind as anything real; they're pod people, who cause "sprawl." In the election they just lost, Democrats demonized for months, then ran against "the Enrons and the WorldComs"--as if resentment of corporate logos would drive voters to the polls. At least in the old days the progressives railed against the Robber Barons, men with names. But with the decline of industrial unions, cultural Democrats have lost any affinity whatsoever for this swath of American society, which they've reduced to an economic abstraction.
You could just as easily substitute "grubby little merchants" or "Schweitzer Engineering Labs" in the piece above for "Procter & Gamble" and it would really drive home the point. Judy Krueger et. al. want a trolley and trendy boutique restaurants downtown because that is what wealthy lawyers and professsors with no small children at home want. It's not so much malevolence as it is an incredible arrogant ignorace about the "common man" they talk about protecting as they sit around and sip their lattes.

I don't believe that every Democrat in Pullman is against Wal-Mart any more than I believe that every Republican is for it. There used to be some great Democrats in this country that came from the working class and fought for the working man. But they have been replaced by effete intellectuals often born of wealth and privilege.

But there is no question that PARD is composed of these far-left, out-of-touch Howard Dean-type Democrats (more about that tomorrow).

Sunday, September 25, 2005

PARD Has "Nothing To Hide" - Let Them Prove It

In a letter to the editor to be published in tomorrow's Daily Evergreen, T.V. Reed and Christopher Lupke lash out at Russell Hall, who wrote a letter to the editor last week calling PARD on their tactics, and demand an apology from him.

They say that PARD has "nothing to hide." Interesting. Then why have they not addressed the serious allegations of lying leveled at them by Jerry Griebling, owner of Jerry's Auto Repair?

Fraud in the obtaining of signatures to be used in a SEPA comment, which is then part of public record and can be used as evidence in appeal hearings, is a serious matter.

Why not write a letter addressing that issue instead? Talk about defamatory. Go ahead Tim. Strike out at the local businesses you say you are "defending." It seems PARD's "above-it-all" veneer is starting to crack just a bit and the community will soon see what they are all about.

If PARD has nothing to hide, why are all their minutes after January 27 password protected. And why did they stop publishing minutes at all after May 19?

And if a majority of Pullman residents support PARD, why did PARD restrict access to their discussion board after Wal-Mart supporters started posting there? These are not the actions of a bold majority, but of a paranoid and insular minority.

Of course, Tim himself admitted over the summer in a op-ed for the Daily News that no one knew if a majority opposed or supported Wal-Mart. That was the truest thing he has said to date. PARD is just much happier pretending everyone agrees with them

I find it deeply inappropriate that a high-ranking faculty member is this deeply involved in this issue. I urge the "vocal minority who favor this boondoggle", as they so "respectfully" put it, to contact WSU President Lane Rawlins and share your opinion with him.

It's time for the pages of the Daily News and Evergreen to start flowing with pro-Wal-Mart letters. These arrogant radicals need to see just what kind of "minority" they are dealing with.

Friday, September 23, 2005

News You Won’t See…

…on Al Norman’s sprawl-busters.com, the PARD web site, or in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

Recently renovated Wal-Mart Supercenters in Richland and College Place (Walla Walla) opened to the public yesterday. Wal-Mart has also announced plans to build a Supercenter in Pasco. Pullman is now left as one of the only cities above 10,000 population in Eastern Washington without a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Richland economic development director Diahann Howard said that Wal-Mart’s expansion brings new jobs and sales tax revenue to Richland, and may help increase traffic in an area the city would like to see grow.

The Tri-City Herald reported about 1,200 people applied for about 200 openings at the Richland Wal-Mart. So much for no one wanting to work at Wal-Mart.

Don’t worry, that will be us soon.

The Ghost of Pyrrhus

In a bizarre twist, PARD spokespersons Christopher Lupke in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News yesterday, and Montine Vona-Pergola on NewsTalk 1150 this morning, stated that they were glad that the city had applied 35 conditions to the Wal-Mart site plan approval. It’s almost as if they are claiming victory and taking credit for the conditional approval. The arrogant hypocrisy of these people is stunning.

Some of the “hard-hitting” city conditions:
#6. Provide calculations for the retaining walls including the total face area of the walls.
#9. The City will require 3 sets of construction drawings for our use.
#10. All construction shall meet City of Pullman Standard Construction Specifications and Standard Plans.
#21. Grip rings and/or Foster connectors are acceptable in lieu of thrust blocks and are required for fire hydrant assemblies.
#23. Landscape trees shall not be placed in utility easements.
#27. No obstructions shall be placed within three feet of a fire hydrant. Shrubs, utilities, etc. shall not be placed within 3 feet of a fire hydrant. Fire hydrant steamer ports shall face the street, access road, parking lot lane, etc.
#33. Approved numbers or addresses shall be placed on the building in such a position as to be plainly visible and legible from the street fronting the property and shall contrast with the background. The pylon sign on Bishop Boulevard shall also have the address of the site on it. Monument signs on Fairmount Drive are not required to have addressing.
There ARE several minor conditions concerning storm water runoff (reports, documentation, relocation of a swale, etc), striping on Fairmount Drive to control traffic, and replacement of trees and a landscaping screen along the boundary with the cemetery. These all directly related to issues that PARD is currently appealing from the SEPA approval a few weeks ago.

So now what? Previously, PARD excoriated Mark Workman for the final SEPA Determination of Non-Significance. Now they are praising him. Does this mean they will drop some of their SEPA appeals based on the city’s conditions and not pursue a site plan appeal? Not bloody likely. Lupke said yesterday PARD would likely appeal, BEFORE HE HAD EVEN REVIEWED THE SITE APPROVAL.

PARD will look even shriller, fanatical and out of touch because now they have acknowledged the city did a good job on the site plan (albeit, they’ll claim, only because of PARD’s prodding). But gosh darn it, even if Wal-Mart addresses all 35 issues (which they will), PARD will still have to appeal the site plan and the SEPA approval for “the good of the people of Pullman.”

This will prove to the public what I have been saying all along. There is NOTHING that Wal-Mart or the city can do that would meet with PARD’s approval. Only complete “slam dunking” of Wal-Mart, to use Al Norman’s catchphrase, will assuage them.

UPDATE: 9/23/05 5:15 PM - I was right. PARD is claiming credit and declaring victory. From their website:
The Wal-Mart Site Plan has been approved with 35 mitigations. The city apparently agrees with us; several of our criticisms of the site plan are outlined. This is a site plan with serious issues that must be resolved prior to a building permit being granted.
To quote WSUStretch's comment:
Conditions placed on site plans, or on residential or commercial plats are nothing unusual - go back and look and any of the rulings from the planning commission or the city council over the past 20 years. It's normal. Most of them are obvious and more reminders than "restrictions"
They are hardly "serious issues". We'll see now if they appeal the site plan after publicly saying the "city apparently agrees with us."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Another Bad Week for the Bad Guys

As expected, Pullman Planning Director Mark Workman approved the site plan for the Wal-Mart Supercenter today, contingent on Wal-Mart meeting 35 routine conditions. This commences a 10-day appeal period.

The next step would normally be the issuance of a building permit. However, we all know that isn’t going to happen for several months. First, we’ll have to put up with all the incessant blathering by the uptight intelligentsia about how they know better than our city government. Then, the frivolous SEPA appeal filed by PARD has to have a hearing (and potentially another appeal hearing after that in the Whitman County Superior Court). I’m sure they will appeal the site plan decision as well, in which case both appeals will be heard together. I’ll detail the road ahead in a future post.

I loved in the Daily News headline where it said, "PARD may appeal decision" Hmmmm. Ya think?

All in all, it was yet another depressing week for PARD. The Wal-Mart approval process continued to march forward and in last Tuesday’s primary, Ann Heath walloped PARD council candidate Judy Krueger by 13 percentage points. I’m sure we will soon see even more desperate spin by PARD that they have “won the battle for public opinion.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Memo to Joel Mills

Joel Mills, of the Lewiston Tribune, should check with his sister paper on the Palouse before writing any more misguided blurbs like this:
"...none of the [Ward 3 city council] candidates opposed or supported the Wal-Mart outright."
In today's edition of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Michelle Dupler wrote the following about Judy Krueger's campaign:
She [Krueger] continues to feel strongly that Wal-Mart is an important issue for voters. Pioneer Hill resident Jeff Bohlscheid agreed, saying his vote for Krueger was strongly influenced by her opposition to the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter.

"I'm not really happy with that being in town," Bohlscheid said. "I'm tired of junk. Just low quality, poor quality items. Wal-Mart is just promoting cheap, poor-quality stuff that breaks."
Ah, another well-articulated argument against Wal-Mart. Opponents are always visceral, elitist, and completely misinformed. Perhaps Mr. Bohlscheid only shops at Macy's and Nordstrom, but Wal-Mart offers thousands of name brand items, and yes at cheap prices. That has been their recipe for unprecedented success.

Joel Mills had better leave the Pullman political reporting to those who know it best and learn not to take candidate's statements at face value.

Election Results - Updated with Mail-In Ballots

As of September 21, 4:01 PM, with 55 of 56 precincts reporting:

Proposition 1 - Whitman County Adult Jail and Juvenile Detention Sales and Use Tax

YES 2,590 votes 54.42 %

NO 2,169 votes 45.57 %

City of Pullman; Ward 3 Pos. 3

ANN HEATH 236 votes 52.09 %

DONALD HEIL 38 votes 8.38 %

JUDY KRUEGER 166 votes 39.07 %

Voter turnout was a paltry 18%.

So, Proposition 1 passes by a fairly comfortable margin.

More importantly Ann Heath polled more votes than her two opponents combined. Even if Judy Krueger gets all of Don Heil's support (such as it was), she faces an uphill battle. Guess the trolley idea didn't excite too many voters. It's still pretty close, though. Ann will need our help in November, when as expected, she will face off Judy Krueger once again.

Flip Flop, Flip Flop

The most famous political aphorism of 2004 was "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

Now it seems Judy Krueger, Ward 3 city council candidate, is channelling Senator John Kerry. She is trying to deny that she is opposed to Wal-Mart and is backing away from the extremist stance of the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development, of which she is a member.

In today's Lewiston Tribune, Krueger is quoted as saying that the proposed Wal-Mart location is unsuitable because it lies in between two quiet residential neighborhoods and that she wants to attract retail businesses to Pullman, but in a planned way that avoids sprawl. In other words, "I don't like the idea of Wal-Mart and the only place in town it can be located doesn't work, but other than that, I'm not condemning Wal-Mart." This is what is called a "non-denial denial." She has made similar statements to the Triubune and the Daily News previously. I guess she is learning to become a politician.

Besides the fact that the proposed Wal-Mart location is on the extreme southern edge of town in the middle of a wheat field, not "in between two quiet residential neighborhoods," anyone can clearly see that what Krueger is claiming is disingenuous. Of course she is against Wal-Mart. Ms. Krueger is self-admittedly a board member of the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development which is currently pursuing legal action to STOP Wal-Mart, not have it "relocated" (to where, Almota?). Judy Krueger wrote the letter from PARD to Mayor Johnson requesting a "public meeting" about Wal-Mart. PARD has discussed that the denial of this meeting could be the basis for a future law suit against the city.

Active PARD members are involved in her campaign and are writing letters to the editor in support of Krueger. Just look above at what was on the middle of the PARD table at the National Lentil Festival (in between the "Say No to Wal-Mart" and "One Wal-Mart is Enough" signs, oh brother). Why not just come out and admit it rather than saying she doesn't "really want to get hung up on it"? It's the whole reason she is running fo the council, just as Wal-Mart foes are doing over in Stanwood, WA.

As the writer Douglas Adams put it: "If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands."

Only a Lewiston reporter could claim that "none of the candidates opposed or supported the Wal-Mart outright." I think everyone in Pullman knows the Ward 3 council race is essentially a referendum on Wal-Mart. Ann Heath said in last Saturday's Daily News that Wal-Mart was "consistent with the city's comprehensive plan", while Judy Krueger said Wal-Mart was the "antithesis of smart growth." How much more outright do politicians get? Are these ostriches or news reporters? I love how our local media takes everything at face value, without any challenge or investigation. Wher have you gone, Woodward and Bernstein?

If Judy Krueger had polled 52% of the vote last night versus 39%, you can bet the media would be playing up the Wal-Mart aspect ("Residents Overwhelmingly Express Opposition to Wal-Mart") instead of printing the pablum about Krueger.

Of course, Judy Krueger only got 39% of the vote, and that is why she is desperately saying anything she can to revive her DOA campaign.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Do Not Adjust Your Set....

If you have been noticing problems loading this site tonight, it's not your computer:
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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Blogger is suffering some problems due to a server outage leading to errors on Blogger as well as blogspot. We are trying to rapidly fix this problem and Blogger should be back up soon.

I Voted, Did You?

The polls in Pullman will be closing in a few minutes I voted today around 5:30 PM. I was voter number 38 at Precinct 120, and the officials there told me that they had the heaviest turnout in Pullman to that point. So, as I had thought, this primary will have a very low turnout. Not surprising. It's an off-year, special election with only one or two issues on the ballot that have had very little media coverage. Officials have estimated only a 30% turnout statewide. It will be interesting to see if the low turnout helped or hurt Prop 1 and Judy Krueger.

I spoke with several of my neighbors and co-workers today, and there was a lot of confusion. Many wondered why a sample ballot explaining both sides of the issues was not sent out in the mail explaining candidates' stands and the proposition. As one neighbor commented, "If you don't read the paper, then you have no idea what is going on." Some thought it was a bit disingenuous of the county to add Proposition 1 to the ballot with such short notice. There is no organized opposition that I know of to Prop 1, and the only letters to the editor about it were from Whitman County officials who support it.

It was nice to learn my neighbors had heard of Ann Heath and wanted to vote for her. They couldn't, unfortunately, because like me, they live in Ward 1. The city needs to do a better job educating people about the city wards. There is a big turnover in residents, and it is confusing. An online map would be a good first start. Perhaps also a way you could type in your address and have it return your ward number as well.

I'll post election updates as the results come in.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Vote September 20

Tomorrow, September 20, we have a primary election in Pullman. Remember to take your photo ID with you to the polling place this year. The ballot is very light, but it is very important to our future.

In Ward 1 and 2, you'll only have one entry on the ballot, Proposition 1, which if passed, will raise the sales tax to 7.7%:

Whitman County Adult Jail and Juvenile Detention Sales and Use Tax

Special Election Proposition No. 1

The Whitman County Board of County Commissioners passed Resolution No. 064297 concerning a proposition to authorize a sales and use tax in addition to any other taxes authorized by law, of one-tenth of one percent (10 cents for every $100.00) to be used solely for equipping, operating, maintaining, repairing, remodeling, reequipping, financing, designing, acquiring, constructing, and improvement of juvenile detention facilities and adult jails that house inmates being held, charged, or convicted/adjudicated guilty if misdemeanor and felony acts, as authorized by RCW 82.14.350. Should this proposition be:

( ) Approved
( ) Rejected
In Ward 3, in addition to Prop 1, you will also vote for one of three city council candidates: Ann Heath, Don Heil, or Judy Krueger. The two candidates garnering the most votes will face off in the November election. I think I have just about covered all the reasons everyone in Ward 3 should vote for Ann Heath. I'm only sorry I don't get the chance to do so.

I have the greatest respect for the men and women in this country who lay down their lives to protect others: our military, police, and firefighters. That is why I am so torn about Proposition 1. I realize that money is tight for the county government. I-695, and now record high gas prices, have had a devastating effect. If you follow this blog, you know I mention that fact constantly. However, as much as I support law enforcement, I have to recommend a "No" vote on Proposition 1 tomorrow for the following reasons:

1. It's bad for local business. Pullman is a border town. Whitman County's sales tax, while being among the lowest in Washington, is still 2.6% higher than neighboring Moscow, ID. Study after study has proven, and our own eyes have seen, the competitive disadvantage for businesses in higher sales tax states that border on lower sales tax states. We need a more even playing field.

2. It's bad for local government. High sales tax leads to "sales tax leakage" as consumers spend their dollars in a more competitive jurisdiction. This weakens the revenue base that our local government requires to provide basic services for those Washington residents who shop in Idaho. That is why we are facing Proposition 1 to begin with. The vicious circle has to be broken.

3. It's bad for low and fixed income residents such as seniors and students. A sales tax is inherently regressive; the tax is not based on taxpayers’ ability to pay. Whitman County exempts food sales, making the sales tax somewhat less regressive, but only to a small degree. According to Who Pays?: A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States – 2nd Edition, January, 2003, in Washington, the lowest-income fifth of households pay 17.6 percent of their income in state and local sales taxes, while the richest one percent pay only 3.3 percent.

4. It's bad public policy. Squeezing our already small sales tax base even more to temporarily hold off the wolf at the door is not a permanent solution. The real answer is to expand our retail sales tax base ASAP. A Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman could easily generate as much tax revenue for the county in a short period of time as the increased tax will. Whitman County must continue to become more business friendly. Anti-growth groups like PARD are dangerous. Perhaps it will take real pain like the jail issue to get public opinion to rise up against them and sweep their frivolous, out-of-touch ideological objections aside. PARD has already endorsed Prop 1. You can see where they are headed. "We don't need Wal-Mart to increase our tax revenue. We can just get it off the backs of our existing businesses and taxpayers." When did a liberal ever meet a tax increase they didn't like?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley, Ding, Ding, Dong is the Candidate

Yesterday, Mayor Greg Nickels of Seattle finally put the stake in the heart of the multi-gazillion dollar monorail boondoggle.

Pie-in-the-sky liberal social planners need not despair, however. Pullman City Council Ward 3 candidate Judy Kruger just proposed this today in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News: "Build a rail trolley system from the Compton Union Building to the corner of Main Street and Grand Avenue."

What???????? How could Pullman ever afford anything like that?? We can't even afford a $90,000 fire truck. A 2-mile long trolley line would cost millions. It's laughable. Even more laughable is her contention: "Pullman as Leavenworth” (stronger commercial architectural/zoning codes.)

That's right folks, time to break out the lederhosen and sauerkraut. Judy Krueger's model of "smart growth" is a corny, overpriced tourist trap versus the thriving, high-tech center we are becoming.

See, I told you these people see Pullman as a "Disneyland", or in this case, "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Judy Krueger wants to give us our very own trolley that will take riders to the "Neighborhood of Make Believe," where perhaps they will make purchase from King Friday or Henrietta Pussycat.

From Day One, PARD has droned on about Wal-Mart's low wages and bad health benefits. PARD has even proposed a "living wage" ordinance of $10.50 an hour aimed at Wal-Mart. But does Krueger honestly believe the boutique shops, sidewalk cafes, small food marts, and drugstores she wants for downtown will pay any better or have better benefits? I can't say I've ever seen such malodorous hypocrisy. Stepped in it a few times, but never saw it publicly proclaimed by a candidate for the city council.

Krueger says Wal-Mart is the antithesis of smart growth, but says it should be relocated. Which is it? The PARD board member is apparently trying to play both sides of the court. But we know what she's all about.

Don Heil, aka Mr. 1958, another candidate for Ward 3, says that "Wal-Mart presumes a more ambitious growth assumption." Personally, I want a city councilman that is ambitious about city growth.

Finally, there is the Ward 3 candidate of reality, Ann Heath. She states, with absolute accuracy, that Wal-Mart is consistent with the city's comprehensive plan. She also asserts: "Allowing substantial retail business development in other Pullman locations will help attract/retain "niche" businesses downtown by keeping resident shoppers in town and attracting shoppers from outlying areas". Amen.

The choice on Tuesday is clear. Vote for sanity. Vote Heath.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

PARD: Petitioners Are Really Deceptive


The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development's dirty tactics have finally been exposed.

In a letter to the editor published in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Jerry Griebling, the owner/manager of Jerry's Auto Repair had this to say:
Our business was recently visited by a person representing themselves as pro-business and pro-economic growth who asked me to sign a petition requesting an economic study regarding the proposed Pullman Wal-mart.

In reality this person was a representative of PARD who was gathering signatures from Pullman business people not to facilitate economic study but to use the petition as a tactic to delay or stop the Pullman Wal-Mart. The petition was further "spun" with a cover letter that was not a part of the original petition and sent to the Pullman Director of Public Works. Looking down the list of others on the petition it appears that others were likewise duped and misrepresented.

I think that it is important to set the record straight in order to minimize confusion and to expose deceptive practices for what they are.
Wal-Mart critics cannot possibly try to marginalize Jerry as they have with the dozens of other merchants who signed an open letter in support of economic growth and Wal-Mart by claiming that he doesn't "compete with Wal-Mart." Jerry's Auto Repair was cited by PARD in their own "position paper" as being at high-risk from Wal-Mart.

Jerry doesn't specifically mention it in his letter, but the letter was submitted during the SEPA comment period as a comment negative to Wal-Mart. The letter, signed by "Nineteen Pullman Merchants," disagrees with the city's determination of non-significance by calling for an economic study to be conducted. Click on the pictures below to see a copy of the letter. A better quality PDF can be found here. Perhaps your name appears on that letter and you didn't realize it either. If so, please let me know.

The most incredible irony of all is that opposite Jerry's letter in the paper is a letter from Pat Orlich in which she blathers:
...The city of Pullman officials who are courting Wal-Mart have refused to consider the economic effect that the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter will have on our community. Be assured, these economic issues will be presented if and when a hearing is ever held.
Why ironic? In the PARD minutes from January 27, 2005, this item appears as #9:
The [sic] Pat and Dan Orlich conducted informal research with 19 downtown Pullman retailers, inquiring about their opinions and concerns of a possible Wal-Mart Superstore in Pullman. The conclusions are mixed, with some people feeling neutral, some folks not worried because they feel secure in their business, and some simply not having enough information.
Does anyone see the incredible coincidence that the Orlichs polled 19 downtown Pullman retailers, and that is the exact number in the letter submitted as a SEPA comment? It is more than chance. They poll 19 merchants, and whether or not they agree with PARD, their signature is then used against Wal-Mart and is now being trumpeted as potential evidence in an appeal hearing. There have also been other letters from PARD chiding the city for not responding to the merchant petition. Is it any wonder they haven't? It's as bogus as a three-dollar bill.

In the picture below from the Daily Evergreen, Pat and Don Orlich are on the right. If you are a merchant and were approached by either of them, please let me know. I personally know of one other merchant who was duped that is not willing to go public at this time. Hopefully, this individual will come forward after Jerry's letter.

Am I surprised by all this? No. I have seen PARD's lying and name-calling first hand. They are fanatics and will do whatever it takes to win. Just like the UFCW union in Henderson. NV. But now all of Pullman can see what their "defenders" are all about. I am going to contact Mark Workman, the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, and the Daily News to demand an immediate investigation to ascertain the full extent of this deception by PARD. I urge you to do the same. Let's make our voices heard and get to the truth about this important matter.

The "Nineteen Pullman Merchants" letter should be pulled from the SEPA comments. It cannot be allowed as evidence in any SEPA appeal hearing now, as its validity is in question. It's tainted. Makes you wonder about PARD's famous "10,000 signature" petition. I don't imagine that would bear scrutiny either.

Are these the kind of people you want speaking for you Pullman? E-mail a letter to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News and let 'em know how you feel.

The Neros of Pullman

Last week, the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development announced its long-awaited appeal to the city's final SEPA threshold determination for the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter. I imagine PARD's strategy will be to delay the construction as long as possible through one frivolous appeal after another. What does that mean for Pullman? It means that we will all be less safe.

PARD has made the absurd contention that the large Wal-Mart parking lot will become a "party zone" and drive up policing costs. Some ACTUAL reasons policing costs are going up are high gas prices and rapid population growth combined with a lack of funding. That is the reason why Proposition 1 will be on the ballot September 20. If approved, it will add 1/10 of one percent to the sales and use tax to pay for desperately needed upgrades to the county jail in Colfax and putting more deputies back on patrol.

I was concerned when I heard that the city government told the Pullman Fire Department that there is no money in the general fund to purchase needed equipment such as a new Jaws of Life rescue system or a pump truck to fight brush fires. I think we all clearly realize the danger brush fires represent in populated areas after the School Canyon Fire last month.

The city’s general fund receives the vast majority of its revenue from property and sales tax. Even though Pullman is currently growing faster than the state average, Whitman County has some of the lowest sales tax collections in all of Washington. Why? Pullman is severely under-retailed, and so suffers sales tax leakage to neighboring jurisdictions. I-695 has been a further blow, as the city has lost millions of dollars in motor vehicle excise tax collections that had been used to make up for low sales tax receipts.

The retail sales tax revenue that Wal-Mart brings will go a long ways towards alleviating these public safety funding problems. The first priority of any local government is to raise funds to provide for the protection of citizens and their property, not to judge if the source of that income is “politically correct” to a particular group or not.

It is dangerous for PARD to suggest that we continue exporting our tax dollars by asserting, “One Wal-Mart is Enough!” Does anyone in Moscow answer when you dial 911?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Instant Karma's Gonna Get You

As I recently reported, the Washington "Education" Association has prohibited teachers from purchasing school supplies for needy students at Wal-Mart. The WEA cites the way Wal-Mart treats and pays its workers as the reason.

Chuck Millham, a distinguished retired WSU professor, took the WEA to task over this stance in a column in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News a couple of weeks ago, stating that the WEA needs to clean up its own house with regards to educating children first.

Then, I saw this today in the Education Intelligence Agency Communiqué for the Week of September 12, 2005:

Washington NEA Affiliate Has Staff Labor Troubles Again. Some NEA state affiliates never seem to be able to achieve that elusive "labor peace" with their own staff unions. The Washington Education Association's difficulties with its unionized employees go back a long way (at least this far , and here, too ). Now WEA is in federal mediation in its contract talks with its professional staff, and the staffers are complaining about poor salary offers, circumvention of seniority rules, and a disrespectful attitude by management.

If you want to know more, a source tells EIA that WEA employees, and some friends from other states, are planning an informational picket this Friday at the union's headquarters building in Federal Way (though EIA was unable to confirm this by press time). I'm sure they would appreciate your expressions of solidarity as they battle against their oppressive employers.
How richly ironic! Maybe it's time for a boycott of our own.

UPDATE 09/18/2005: The Seattle Times story about the informational picket can be found here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

An Evening with Ann Heath

Last Wednesday evening, I had the privilege to attend a meet-and-greet fundraising event for Ward 3 city council candidate Ann Heath. I was pleased to see several current and former city council members on hand to support Ann.

Pullman is lucky to have Ann on the council. She has a law degree from Seattle University and was an Assistant Attorney General of Washington for 13 years. She is bright, articulate, and personable. Her passion for Pullman is obvious.

Ann addressed us briefly and answered some questions. Yes, she supports the Wal-Mart Supercenter. Ann sees it as a zoning issue. The land Wal-Mart plans to build on was zoned C-3 commercial over 20 years ago. At that time, the city effectively put up a sign saying "come on in" which is exactly what Wal-Mart is doing now. She feels no business, big or small, should be denied that opportunity, just as no citizen is denied the right to live in town because a neighbor might not like them personally.

She said the city's percentage of revenue derived from property tax and sales tax are out of balance. Pullman has to increase its retail sales tax base as the property tax rate is high enough already. Ann, like everyone else, likes green spaces, the arts, and the other amenities of life, but they all require funding from somewhere. The sales tax revenue going over the border to Moscow is killing us. Pullman needs to become self-sufficient in supplying its own retail needs if we are to keep growing.

Ann said she "got her blood up" when she saw who her opponent was going to be. Judy Krueger is a "special interest" candidate representing one issue: stopping Wal-Mart. Ann is running for Pullman, not against Wal-Mart.

The council contest between Ann Heath and Judy Krueger promises to be one of the more spirited campaigns in recent Pullman history. The future direction of Pullman is at stake.

I am happy to say that Pullman could not have found a better candidate to run the race for our future than Ann Heath. She has a fire in her belly and is determined to win. Her sign campaign has already blanketed Pioneer Hill and more are to come.

She is going to need out help and our money. And if you live in Ward 3, she needs your vote, both in the primary next Tuesday and in November.

If you would like to help Ann, please contact the Committee to Retain Ann Heath, P.O. Box 723, Pullman, WA 99163 or drop me a line here.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The "Big Lie"

The "Big Lie" is a propaganda technique that was originally developed during WWII. The theory is that if a lie is told often enough, with enough authority and sincerity, eventually it will be believed.

For example (my emphasis in bold):


Christopher Lupke (509) 335-2755; clupke@yahoo.com


Pullman, WA - Attorneys for the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development (PARD)have filed an appeal in response to the City of Pullman's decision to issue a determination of nonsignificance regarding the environmental impact of the Wal-Mart Supercenter or, more accurately, mall, proposed for Bishop Blvd. in Pullman. As Christopher Lupke asserted, "we anticipated that Pullman Public Works Director Mark Workman, an unelected city official, would reach this conclusion because it has been clear that he has favored the Wal-Mart plan all along. Thus, while we were disappointed that he did not heed the words of area residents who submitted over 500 pages of documents voicing opposition to the Wal-Mart during the public comment period, we were not surprised at all by his decision. And his decision does not mean we are any closer to a Wal-Mart in Pullman because PARD is appealing the ruling, and we are confident we will eventually prevail. We have public opinion on our side."

PARD's appeal suggests that the Wal-Mart mall will render grave environmental impact upon the Pullman community. Implicit in the appeal is that the controversy will eventually be turned over to a Hearing Examiner from outside the community who is supposed to be unbiased. The appeal was filed at Pullman City Hall on Wednesday, September 7. The essential points of the appeal include the fact that the Wal-Mart mall is slated to be built adjacent to a historic cemetery, the boundaries of which have not been adequately established; that the mall will result in the generation of over 11,727 new traffic "visits" per day (Wal-Mart's own estimate), unsustainable for the surrounding conditions; that the project will be a threat to the natural environment by eliminating natural wetlands on the property and by covering a massive area that will eventually create severe storm water runoff and diminish the ability of the soil to absorb water for the water table; that the Wal-Mart's massive size (over 220 thousand square feet with a parking lot for over 1000 cars) is inappropriate for both the size and location of the site; that the added traffic burden will impact access to the adjacent hospital and cause a danger to pedestrians in an area near an assisted care facility, elementary and junior high schools, and a residential area; that the environmental checklist submitted by Wal-Mart was superficial, cursory and rudimentary and that it did not heed the concerns of residents and experts who filed letters during the public comment period; that the mall will create noise and light pollution in an area where many live; and that residents in the City of Pullman are generally against the project, as exhibited by the nearly 10,000 signatures gathered petitioning against the project.

It was additionally noted that as a corporation Wal-Mart engages in disreputable business practices such as predatory competition designed to drive competing retailers out of business through the promotion of a "one stop" shopping model and under-profit price slashing; that this business practice will have a negative effect on business in Pullman which is also an environmental concern; that many studies have indicated that the result of Wal-Mart's business practices in communities comparable to Pullman is a net loss of jobs and tax revenue; and that Wal-Mart is leading the way in undercutting the American manufacturing base by forcing its vendors to outsource their production to third world nations with cheap labor and few laws protecting the health or rights of their workers.
This "press release" is rife with factual errors, contumelious attacks on public officials, speculation, hyperbole and outright whining. The statement "...we anticipated that Pullman Public Works Director Mark Workman, an unelected city official, would reach this conclusion because it has been clear that he has favored the Wal-Mart plan all along. Thus, while we were disappointed that he did not heed the words of area residents who submitted over 500 pages of documents voicing opposition to the Wal-Mart during the public comment period, we were not surprised at all by his decision..." should be followed by "Waaaaaaaaaahhh." But let me concentrate on some of the more notable falsehoods.

Public opinion is behind them? Have these people been on Mars? It's just the opposite. Public opinion is growing AGAINST PARD

10,000 petition signatures exhibit that Pullman residents are against Wal-Mart? I challenge PARD to once and for all show the EXACT number of full-time PULLMAN RESIDENTS whose signature appears on the petition. PARD has described this as a "consumer petition" open to all "in the region." Now, it proves Pullman residents are against Wal-Mart? Sorry, you can't have it both ways.

I have personally seen parts of the petition, and only about half of the names that I saw were from Pullman. Even T.V. Reed, PARD chairman, himself said in a column in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News published over the summer that no one knew exactly how any people supported or opposed Wal-Mart in Pullman. So why do they persist in releasing this untruth to the media?

One thing is true in this putrid piece of propaganda. PARD continually and wrongheadedly refers to Wal-Mart as a "mall." While any sane person knows that is not true (by their standard Safeway, ShopKo and Costco would all be considered "malls" as well), it does remind Pullman residents that this group of fanatics is just like the group back in the 70's that cost Pullman the Palouse Mall and 30 years of economic dominance by Moscow.

Never again Ignore the "Big Lie."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Coke is the Real Thing, Pt. 1

Joshua Coke is a 22-year old full-time WSU student who plans to enroll in a Ph.D. program in Psychology next year. He also works for WSU Student Computing Services as a Systems Manager. Coke is originally from Auburn, WA, but has bought a house in town and now calls Pullman home. He running for the city council, Ward 1, Position 7 against Bill Paul, the incumbent, and Gary Johnson, a write-in candidate.

Back on August 7, in describing the Ward 1 council race, I speculated that Joshua Coke might be a member of PARD. It seemed to fit PARD's general strategy at the time. Ultimately, I didn't know very much at all about Joshua other than where he worked and where he went to school. He was the "wild card" in the race.

I am quite happy to report that I was wrong about him. He has absolutely no affiliation with PARD. In fact, just the opposite.

A candidate profile of Coke appeared in yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Some excerpts:
"I wanted to get involved with local government instead of being one of the many students who comes and goes."

When Coke heard Pullman finance director Troy Woo say the city reserve fund could be negative in a few years, he was inspired to become a voice in favor of economic development.

"I wanted to have a voice. I think it's a problem that most people I know go over to Moscow, Lewiston, or even Spokane for their day-to-day needs."

In Coke's view, the key to economic expansion is growing the city's retail base so that more amenities are available for residents...[he] wants to preserve the small-town atmosphere that makes him want to call Pullman his home.

"I like the feel of this town. That's why I decided to stay. It's not too big, not too small."

If elected to the council, Coke believes he will bring an open mind, particularly when it comes to listening to the needs of local business owners.

Coke also would like to show the community many students are responsible citizens.

"I want to show I do care about the community and a lot of us want to have a positive voice. I'm a younger person. The majority of town is populated by students during the year. It's important for them to have a voice in city gvoernment."
It turns out that Mr. Coke is a reader and supporter of this blog. I asked him some additional questions about his candidacy and he graciously agreed to answer them:

Q: In your candidate profile, you mention that growing Pullman's retail base is the key to economic expansion. Does this mean that you support the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter?
A: The short answer is that yes, I do support the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter. However, I feel that this is a very complicated and sensitive issue that is difficult to distill to a simple yes or no answer. Pullman is a unique community and I agree that it is important to preserve the comfortable small town feel that those of us who are permanent residents love so much. At the same time, however, we need to acknowledge the fact that this city is growing rapidly and that residents are having to leave not only the city but often the state in order to have their needs met. So it becomes a delicate balance of trying to accommodate the demands of the community and account for growth without disturbing the qualities that make the city such a great place to live. The fact of the matter is that the city of Pullman needs more retail options and the associated tax revenue. While the construction of a Wal-Mart will help to alleviate these problems, it is also important to consider the fact that they are a somewhat controversial retailer and that there are a significant number of people who are strictly opposed to them both as a community presence and as a corporation. How do we, as a community, please residents on both sides of the line? Furthermore, how do we accurately measure support or opposition? I believe that we must remain open-minded and consider the arguments from all those wishing to contribute to the discussion rather than just the opinions of extremely vocal special interest groups or individuals. After reading and listening to arguments from those both for and against the Pullman Wal-Mart, I personally believe that the potential economic benefits and increased consumer choice outweigh the negative attributes of Wal-Mart’s presence.
Q: Why do you feel that your comments about Wal-Mart were left out of your candidate profile? Have you perceived an anti-Wal-Mart bias in the Daily New coverage?
A: I don’t feel that the Daily News was expressing a bias against Wal-Mart by excluding my comments about them. Michelle and I discussed a number of topics during the interview, and I feel that she did a good job of condensing my comments into the available space. The purpose of the article was to give a brief profile of each candidate as well as a few of their key views. I talked at length about the importance of expanding the retail base to meet the demands of the community, which is a much bigger issue encompassing more than just a single retailer. While I would have liked for my specific comments on the Wal-Mart situation to have been included, I still feel that I got my point across and am pleased with the final product.
Q: Do you think other city council candidates have been dodging the Wal-Mart issue, and if so, why?
A: That’s an interesting question, and frankly I’m not certain of the answer. As I stated earlier, the Wal-Mart situation is controversial and people seem to be rather divided on the issue. Thus, I can understand not wanting to alienate and anger a large portion of your constituency who may not agree with your statements. In my particular case, my Wal-Mart comments were omitted from the Daily News article so it may very well seem that I was attempting to dance around the issue rather than discuss it frankly as I did. Whether or not the issue is intentionally being avoided, I couldn’t say for certain.
Q: WSU students have played a significant role in the current Wal-Mart debate. The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development(PARD), which is opposing Wal-Mart, has many student members. Also, a petition pledging not to shop or work at Wal-Mart has been circulated by PARD. That petition contains thousands of student signatures. Many Wal-Mart supporters in the community feel that student opinion on Wal-Mart is irrelevant, as they are just temporary residents of Pullman. A student that opposes Wal-Mart could be replaced next semester by one that does. As a student yourself, what is the vibe you get on the Wal-Mart issue from your fellow classmates? Will students stay away from Wal-Mart in droves, as they have promised? Or is this yet another example of misplaced campus idealism?
A: When discussing the issue of Wal-Mart amongst my classmates, coworkers, and friends, opinions are rather divided yet leaning more toward opposition than support. Now, I feel that it is important to distinguish between private and public opinion in this case. As you have mentioned in your own commentary, it seems that those in favor of Wal-Mart are reluctant to say so publicly. When discussing the issue in groups, most people I know will express staunch opposition to big business and Wal-Mart in particular, arguing that its presence would decimate the community. However when speaking one on one or in smaller groups, the same people will admit to shopping at Wal-Mart in Moscow and that if a Wal-Mart were to be constructed in Pullman, they would likely shop there instead. On Friday I had a discussion about this issue with 8 of my coworkers, all of which were students. Initially, they all vehemently expressed disdain for Wal-Mart. Yet, when I asked them to raise their hand if they had bought anything from the Moscow Wal-Mart in the past two weeks, there wasn’t a single unraised hand. So where is the disconnect there? I have a hard time believing that people who will drive 7 miles to patronize the Wal-Mart in Moscow will actually boycott the proposed Pullman Wal-Mart. Bear in mind that this is merely anecdotal evidence and my own circle of acquaintances may have radically different opinions than the rest of the student population. In regards to the suggestion that student opinion should be discarded since they are temporary residents, I strongly disagree. Regardless of the duration of their stay in Pullman, students still comprise a significant portion of the population and as members of this community their voices should be heard and opinions considered. To trivialize the views of a particular demographic, especially such a large one, I believe to be highly irresponsible. Yes, the student population tends to be more liberal and idealistic, which as you mentioned, may account for their large representation in groups like PARD. Whether or not students will actually boycott a Pullman Wal-Mart is hard to say. I’m sure that some will vote with their wallets and frankly, I’d be glad to see them do so. Nobody is attempting to force you to shop at a particular establishment, and if you have a philosophical opposition then by all means make that known by shopping elsewhere. While student opinions may be idealistic, I would disagree with labeling these ideals as being misplaced. I’m glad that students take an interest in the community and are making their opinions on Wal-Mart known. Some have made excellent arguments both for and against, so regardless of my position on the subject I’m pleased to see the fairly constant discussion on the campus.
To be continued...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

New (Almost) PARD Web Site

This evening, I found a web site in my hit counter that linked to this blog. As the URL was from PARD's domain (pullman-ard.org), I was naturally intrigued. I clicked on the link and discovered the prototype version of a new PARD web site. The site was taken offline shortly after I announced its existence. Ooops. The "double-secret prototype" wasn't so secret after all.

It contained all the same old tired neo-socialist drivel, unfortunately. For example, the main page titled "Welcome to PARD" stated: "Whether you are for or against the Wal-Mart coming to Pullman, please consider the goal of our organization..." Don't worry, T.V., we have considered the goal of your organization, and that is why so many Pullman citizens are foursquare against it.

The link to my blog was under "Related Pages" and was titled "Boob." The comment was not flattering, but I do appreciate the increased traffic the link has brought. Thanks guys! Although this is probably what people were expecting to see when they opened it. Click on the picture below to see the link as it appeared on the prototype "Welcome to PARD" page.

See, even though PARD says their purpose is "a more open process to bring in more input from Pullman citizens", they apparently only want input from people that agree with them. Anyone else, they ridicule and marginalize. For a bunch of PhDs, it's disappointing that they can't even come up with a witty pejorative.

1000 Visitors!

I started this blog back on June 22. Today at 01:37:14 PM, some 2 1/2 months later, Palousitics received its 1000th unique visitor.

The dates are ironic. On June 22, the city announced the preliminary DNS for Wal-Mart's SEPA checklist and today PARD filed its long-anticipated appeal to the city's final SEPA DNS (yawn).

Thanks Pullman! It's nice to know that there are so many others out there that share my so-called "extremist views."

Sorry Tim (or T.V. or whatever), but have fun storming the castle!

Whose Vision?

Judy Krueger, city council candidate for Ward 3, said in an interview published in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News yesterday that she wants citizens to tell the city what kind of growth Pullman should have.

The question is whose vision would that be? Ms. Krueger says she doesn't like "sprawl." I happen to live in a development that some would consider "sprawl," but we call it "affordable family housing." That's the problem with trying to conform community growth to a plan versus letting it develop along the lines free market forces take it.

Charles Tomlinson, a writer for the Objectivist Center, summed up the issue of "urban sprawl" quite eloquently:
Urban Sprawl is just another name for growth and prosperity

The media makes urban sprawl sound like some kind of terrible virus that will infect the forests and other green areas of the world and cause them to disappear forever. Urban sprawl refers to replacing forests and farms (which are pretty, and desirable to those who do not have to pay the taxes on them) by other things that are not so pretty like factories, homes, highways, shopping malls, and people.

But factories provide jobs for people to improve their standard of living. Home ownership has defined the American dream. New and better highways make it easier for people to be able to get around. Shopping malls are constructed to fill people's need to buy food, clothing, and other items. And just what is wrong with people moving to areas that were once farms and forests? People have been doing this in this country for over three hundred years. Why should they stop now?

If fields and forests are changed into factories, homes, and other uses that people want, it is because the people who own the fields and forest decide to sell them to the people who want to make factories, homes, etc. The factory and home folks either are successful in making the changes they desire in land use and succeed in their efforts, or they guess wrong and they fail. In either case, they are the ones who profit or lose. You and I, unless we choose to, do not have a dog in the race. The process is market driven, noncoercive (which means that you and I do not have to participate if we choose not to) and reality based.

If we embrace the Trojan horse of urban sprawl what are the results?

Somebody out there (usually a bureaucrat with the word "planner" in his title) decides that the people in his jurisdiction would be better off if the forest was preserved in a green belt and the factory placed over here, the houses over there, and the highways replaced by some urban transit scheme. His wishes are imposed by regulations, laws, codes, and eminent domain on those who live within his zone of control.

This land use is not market driven, but bureaucratically imposed. You, as a taxpayer, do have a dog in this race because you are paying for it. Your input into the process will be accepted with open arms if you suggest new ways to acquire additional funds, regulations, or power but will be ignored, vilified, and punished if you dare to question the process itself.

So it boils down to this: The issue with urban sprawl is not the change in land use, but whether market forces or bureaucrats will control it. If the bureaucrats do, it is called planned growth; if the market does, it is labeled urban sprawl. The urban sprawl denounced by the media is simply the idea that you get to do what you want to do with the property that you own. Planned growth means that the planners get to do what they want to do with the property that you own.

The ultimate result of planned growth is available for all to see the old Soviet Union. The grim, depressing sight of apartments holding 5,000 people each, spaced like huge concrete chicken houses marching off into the gray distance; the wide avenues built for parades but deserted because they do not go where people want to go; and the forest parks made to look like government's idea of what a forest should be; give visual evidence of the final result of the planner's world.

Unless you really like the way Moscow looks and works, you should celebrate urban sprawl and the continuing changes that free men can make in the uses of land when they are stimulated by free markets and a desire to make things better.
Public meetings sound democratic, but they are poor indicators of public will. The types of people who attend them tend to be activists. You need look no further than the city council meeting back in March with all the duct-taped mouths and signs or the recent Moscow Planning & Zoning Commission knock-down drag-outs to see what I mean. Activists, by nature, don't generally share the majority's opinion. Normal people are too busy with their lives to attend meetings or even take much notice. Pundits may decry this lack of involvement, but that doesn't change anything. In politics, as in mechanics, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. That is exactly why the activists of the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development wanted a public meeting on Wal-Mart so badly.

Pullman is a very diverse community (students, faculty, business owners, full-time residents, etc.). How would it be possible to ever reach a consensus that everyone in the community could live with? For example, PARD has announced they plan to appeal the city's Wal-Mart decision all the way to the courts. Does anyone really believe that things would be different if there had been a public meeting and the majority of attendees wanted Wal-Mart? PARD doesn't want Wal-Mart under any circumstances and all their talk about "public involvement" is simply a diversionary tactic.

Our current de-politicized process for development may not be perfect and it may not reflect the wishes of every resident, but Pullman is growing and prospering. I'll take that over ideological litmus tests, limited growth, and recession any day.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"It Must be Nice to Always Believe You Know Better"

On August 31, the Daily Evergreen ran an op-ed piece that concluded:
We feel groups like PARD should have the opportunity to debate the development occuring in their town and though we feel those in city hall have the city’s best interest in mind, changes should be made.

Careful thought and planning must go into all aspects of the town’s growth, this goes without saying. To ensure successful growth, we must hear all sides.
God bless the Evergreen. I really don't think they have an agenda like the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. I just chalk it up to youthful idealism. There is a quote that is often attributed to Winston Churchill that goes: "If you're not Liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not Conservative when you're 35, you have no brain." There is no record that Chuchill ever said that, but it is a great line nonetheless.

However, it is just as false to keep saying that PARD has had no voice and has not been heard in the Wal-Mart decision process. They have had ample opportunity to debate and present their case since January, getting extensive coverage in all the local newspapers, reports on TV news, a write-up in The Inlander magazine, and mentions on various anti-Wal-Mart websites around the country. They have protested at city council meetings, held press conferences, circulated petitions, issued a position paper, wrote letters to the editor (over and over again), set up a booth at the Lentil Festival and the Moscow Farmer's Market, and sent in comments during the city's SEPA DNS comment period. Boy, did they send in comments. 75 letters in all, encompassing several hundreds of pages of objections.

The city spent six weeks evaluating those comments and went ahead and approved Wal-Mart's SEPA checklist anyway. PARD will also have an opportunity to appeal the final SEPA determination, as well as the Wal-Mart site plan.

So, it's not that PARD hasn't been heard, it's that their opinions have not been acted on. City Planning Director Mark Workman said in the Daily Evergreen that the "the comments that were of issue to me were the ones that were factual." Ouch.

Why, the impertinence of those city officials! How could they know more than all these amateur city planners and traffic engineers with PhDs? As T.V. Reed said in his SEPA comment letter to Mark Workman, "...And I write as a social scientist whose work focuses on contemporary US society and culture...Given all the concerns raised [by PARD]...and many others raised by local citizens, expert and lay, it is simply incomprehensible that a DNS is the appropriate preliminary decision in this case. It makes one wonder where your judgment as Public Works Director has gone." Montine Vona-Pergola, PARD spokesperson, was also quoted in the Evergreen as saying, "During the public comment period, Pullman residents turned in 585 pages of comments and documentation...many of those from experts in a variety of fields. Because Mr. Workman has opted not to heed these warnings of concern, the citizens of Pullman will be forced to take the issue to the courts."

This whole situation reminds me of a memorable scene in James L. Brooks' 1987 romantic comedy "Broadcast News." Driven, intelligent, and supremely arrogant news producer Jane Craig has just been told of a decision by News Division President Paul Moore that she vehemently disagrees with:
Paul: Okay, that's your opinion.
Jane: It's not opinion.
Paul: You're just absolutely right, and I'm absolutely wrong. It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you're the smartest person in the room.
Jane: No, it's awful.
I think it's time to trim back the ivy from those halls of academe and have a reality check.

We Can Find a Better Neighbor Redux

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development thinks Pullman can find a better neighbor than Wal-Mart.

See, the anti-Wal-Mart jihadis believe that there is a evil cabal of white men down in Bentonville, Arkansas, that sit around and constantly plot how they can better exploit Chinese slave laborers, outsource American jobs, discriminate against minorities and women, downsize health care benefits, drive Mom and Pop stores out of businesss, pollute the environment, create gridlock, bulldoze cemeteries, and generally destroy the American way of life.

Well, it turns out that being the biggest company in the world has distinct advantages. According to this article, Wal-Mart has used its considerable supply and distribution resources not for selfish gain, but instead to help to Hurricane Katrina survivors. In fact, according to Burt Flickinger of the Strategic Resource Group, a frequent critic of Wal-Mart's business practices, "Wal-Mart served the city [New Orleans] far better than any private or public institution." Another critic, Gerald Celente, director of Trends Research Institute, said, "Wal-Mart stepped to the plate...they didn't have to do that."

So much for the evil cabal. And so much for being a bad neighbor.

We are blessed that we live in a very safe area of the country. However, it is not outside the realm of possibility that Pullman could be affected by a major disaster in the future. A wildfire like the School fire a few weeks back could burn many structures or a catastrophic eruption of Mt. St. Helens or Mt. Rainier could bury the town in volcanic ash. I for one would like to have Wal-Mart as a neighbor in that situation.

I particularly like this quote from the article:
Chris Kofinis, a spokesman for the union-backed group Wake-up Wal-Mart, credited Wal-Mart for its storm response. But he said the crisis that followed the storm illustrated the "economic divide in this country that we are fighting as a group to address."
You remember those valiant unions, fighting to address the "economic divide" in this country? That must be why the Washington Federation of State Employees is fighting to make that divide even wider. All state employees now have to pay dues to the union, whether or not they are a member, or lose their jobs. According to The Oregonian (free registration required), about 3,000 state employees are currently facing that possibility.

Jimmy Hoffa would be proud.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Heath for City Council

I said a few days ago that Ann Heath was staunchly pro-growth and pro-business, despite the Moscow-Pullman Daily News spin on her Wal-Mart traffic questions at the city council meeting Tuesday night.

Today, the Daily News ran a candidate profile of Ms. Heath that should put any doubts to rest. Ms. Heath is running for re-election to the Pullman City Council, Ward 3, Position 3, a seat she has held since September 2004.

Here are some choice selections from the article:
Ann Heath believes Pullman should offer more to its residents than, "You can go shopping in Moscow."

With the city's population expected to grow by 2,000 people in he next five years, Heath would like to see Pullman become a regional commercial center with a variety of amenities to offer its residents.

She noted technology businesses are booming in Pullman, but services to entice and retain such businesses need to be enhanced. As an example, she cited the lack of an office supply store in the city.

"This election is about, 'Is this city going to grow?"...and about saying, "We are going to come into our own and serve the needs of the people.'"

Heath believes Pullman's growth helps not only the city and its residents, but the county and outlying communities by keeping tax dolars in Washington.

"We have to stop sending people to Moscow because it's killing us tax-wise."

Overall, she believes Pullman is moving in a positive direction and would like to see that continue.
I think Ann Heath presents a very clear difference with her opponents Don Heil and Judy Krueger, who view Pullman in a negative way and want to limit our growth. In fact, Krueger is a member of a group, the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development, that advocates continuing to send our money over to Moscow versus having a Wal-Mart in Pullman.

Ann has my strongest endorsement and I will help her campaign in any way I can. It is vital to Pullman's future that she remains on the city council.

Waldrop for City Council

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News ran a profile yesterday of of Pullman City Council candidate Barney Waldrop. Waldrop, an attorney, is the incumbent for Ward 2, Position 2. He has been on the council for 6 years.

Mr. Waldrop believes that most people in Pullman are pleased with the direction in which the city is moving. This is a refreshing change from some of "the sky is falling" candidates in other council races.

There is an unintentionally funny part in the article, which is only attributed to "Staff report." The Daily News, in their ever-present effort to spin things in Pullman in a negative light stated, "That notion [Pullman's positive direction] will be put to the test when Waldrop faces re-election to his council position in November."

Waldrop's only potential opponent, Joanne Sellen, was disqualified from the ballot because she filed in the wrong ward. That means Mr. Waldrop is running unopposed. Oops. Nothing like doing your homework.

Mr. Waldrop is definitely pro-growth and supports develpoment of the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport to make the region more attractive to businesses.

He is quoted as saying, " .."Budgets will still be a challenge [due to I-695] , but we have been aided greatly by the measured growth we have had."

Waldrop also stated he would like to see that positive growth continue and that the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter is important to Pullman residents.

Even though he doesn't need it, Barney has my full endorsement to be re-elected to the city council.

We Can Find a Better Neighbor?

The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development has been distributing a bumper sticker that says "We Can Find a Better Neighbor" with a "No Wal-Mart" graphic.

This was announced yesterday:
BENTONVILLE, Ark., Sept. 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Following President Bush's announcement today that former Presidents Bush and Clinton will lead a nationwide fundraising effort to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Wal-Mart President and CEO Lee Scott contacted President Clinton and the White House and committed $15 million from Wal-Mart to jump-start the effort.

As part of this commitment, Wal-Mart will establish mini-Wal-Mart stores in areas impacted by the hurricane. Items such as clothing, diapers, baby wipes, food, formula, toothbrushes, bedding and water will be given out free of charge to those with a demonstrated need.

Wal-Mart previously donated $2 million in cash to aid emergency relief efforts and has been collecting contributions at its 3,800 stores and CLUBS, and through its web sites [www.walmartfacts.com, http://www.walmart.com, http://www.walmartfoundation.org, http://www.walmartstores.com, http://www.samsclub.com].

Through its Associate Disaster Relief Fund, the company will also give displaced associates immediate funds for shelter, food, clothing and other necessities.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and SAM'S CLUBS in all fifty states. Internationally, the company operates in Puerto Rico, Canada, China, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, United Kingdom, Argentina and South Korea. The company's securities are listed on the New York and Pacific stock exchanges under the symbol WMT.
I'm not sure that the survivors of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama would agree with PARD about "finding a better neighbor." The media is always so quick to run negative stories about Wal-Mart. Think we'll see this story in the Daily News?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Letterman's Better (Part 2)

6. Each year thousands of tons of oil and heavy metal residue from the huge parking area will run-off into already endangered streams
"Thousands of tons of oil?" Are we talking about a parking lot here or Jed Clampett's front yard? Where is PARD getting this data from?

I love liberals. They never let facts or science stand in the way of their ideology. If it furthers the cause, just go ahead and make something up. The latest example of this silliness: various left-wingers (Cindy Sheehan, Robert Kennedy, Jr., et. al.) are now blaming President Bush for Hurricane Katrina because the U.S. didn't sign the Kyoto Treaty. Riiiiigghhttttt. You don't hear conservatives blaming France (as tempting as that might be) for building a city that is on average 6 feet below sea level in a hurricane-prone area.

Here are some facts from the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, August 25 edition:
...Wal-Mart's plan for stormwater runoff exceeds the design standards set by the city of Pullman and incorporates standards from the draft Eastern Washington Storm Water Manual being considered for adoption by the state Department of Ecology.

Those standards would require detention of 50 percent of the run-off from a two, 10, or 100 year storm. The city of Pullman requires only detention of of run-off from a 10-year storm.

Wal-Mart has also planned for biofiltration of run-off using grass and swales to remove contaminants from stormwater.
7. Encroachment on Pullman's historic 19th century cemetery, and noise from trucks using the Fairmount Avenue back entrance to the store
College football season starts tonight. If you're a fan, you probably know encroachment is a penalty when a player crosses the line of scrimmage and makes contact with an opponent before the ball is snapped, or lines up offside and remains there when the ball is put in play. Well, Wal-Mart is not "touching" the cemetery. No graves will be unearthed and none of the trees around the cemetery are going to be cut down. In fact, Wal-Mart is funding an archaeological study to ensure that no unmarked graves that might be present adjacent to the cemetery are disturbed by the construction.

Most U.S. towns have a cemetery that was originally outside the city limits and eventually the city expanded and encircled that cemetery. It's the nature of growth and change. The 19th-century Oddfellows Cemetery on Sunnyside Hill was surrounded years ago, but I never hear any complaints about "encroachment" from the Hawthorn Inn, the city's school bus garage or the Whitman County Fire District station.

In Pullman, we have been "landlocked" for years because of restrictive Whitman County zoning ordinances. The city zoned the proposed Wal-Mart location C-3 23 years ago. The Bishop Boulevard corridor, including the area adjacent to the cemetery, has been the city's designated retail growth area for three decades. No special variance is being made for Wal-Mart. But to change the zoning now would be unconstitutional.

Yesterday, the Cordova Theater in downtown Pullman closed after 77 years. The Cordoav is listed with the National Register of Historic Places but the Pullman City Cemetery is not. Yet, I don't recall any taped mouths or signs when the Village Centre Cinemas were constructed a couple of years ago.

The whole cemetery issue is a red herring that PARD can throw out to keep their opposition from looking ideological.
8. Based on national patterns, local businesses are likely to lose between 47% and 63% of their sales to Wal-Mart, while receiving little if any businesses from those attracted to the "one-stop" store
Again, PARD makes a wildly unsubstantiated claim. Where's the attribution for the percentages? It doesn't matter. Any study they might cite would certainly be from some biased Democratic or pro-labor think tank.

The most empirical evidence of all is what you can see with your own eyes. Take a short drive over to Moscow and see the AmeriHost Inn, Applebees, Staples, Office Depot, Hastings, and Big 5 Sports that have all built in close proximity to the Wal-Mart there. I guess local merchants really aren't losing 47% to 63% of their customers. Downtown Moscow is pretty vibrant. No blight there.

Take a little longer trip to Lewiston and see how many businesses have built around the Wal-Mart there. A pattern begins to emerge. Rather than the economic black hole PARD fantasizes, Wal-Marts are a nexus of retail, dining and entertainment activity.

Shopper behavior and studies debunk the "one-stop" store myth. Who goes over to Moscow and JUST spends money at Wal-Mart? A recent Retail Forward study showed that only 34% of Wal-Mart customers purchased clothing there. The same will apply to groceries, optical, tires, etc.

If Wal-Mart is so destructive to local business, why are the vast majority of businesses in Pullman for a Wal-Mart Supercenter? Because they know they can compete with Wal-Mart by offering better service and different products. Competition is good for everyone. It benefits us the consumer by giving us lower prices, more selection, and better quality. It benefits business by forcing them to become more efficient, productive, and innovative, which ultimately makes them more successful. Most stores in Pullman already serve niche markets that Wal-Mart will not address. Not only can these businesses compete, they know they will thrive because of the increased traffic that Wal-Mart will bring.

Downtown Pullman was hurting long before Wal-Mart announced its plans to come to Pullman. The rejection by Pullman of the Palouse Mall some 30 years ago was a body blow to local business. People DO shop at more than one store, and currently they are doing it over in Moscow. Our local merchants just want to have the same chance to bring in potential customers.

Where was PARD a few years ago when mega-multinational corporation Starbucks came to Pullman and opened up not one but TWO coffee shops in direct competition with the home-grown Daily Grind? It's not about business, it's about politics.
9. Wal-Mart's failure to provide its employees with a living wage and affordable health care will transfer a projected $800,000 a year in social service costs to taxpayers
That $800,000 figure is ludicrous and totally unsupported.

PARD has proposed a "living wage" ordinance for retailers over 75,000 sq. ft. mandating an hourly wage of $9.50 with benefits and $10.50 without benefits. The average hourly wage for regular full-time hourly Wal-Mart employees in Washington is $10.14 per hour. What's the problem then?

Does everyone who works at Wal-Mart make $10.14 an hour or above? No. Does everyone who works at Wal-Mart have fantastic benefits? No again. But most retail and service sector employees in Pullman do not get paid full benefits. Retail stores pay relatively low wages versus other employers. Wal-Mart, like all other retailers, provides a job, not a career. Who believes working there is going to be like working at Microsoft or Boeing? Yet, Wal-Mart often offers jobs to people who have few other employment options or limited education. That sure beats unemployment, which really does transfer social service costs to taxpayers.

The Eastern Washington Partnership Strategic Plan for the Implementation of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, updated and revised July 26, 2005 by the Workforce Development Council, describes the retail employment situation thusly:
Retail trade is by far the greatest percentage of trade jobs. Average wages can range from $6,500 for employees who are part time to $11,000, even lower than the state average of $16,000. Most jobs are entry level and many are part time. Required training is minimal, and job turnover is high. Retail trade jobs employ college students in Pullman who are willing to work part time while attending school.
No one puts a gun to anyone's head to make them work at Wal-Mart. In the case of Pullman, we already enjoy one of the the lowest unemployment rates in the state. Wal-Mart is going to have to be very competitive to hire 300 full-time workers in this market. Combine that with the fact that Washington has the highest minimum wage in the country, and I think our local workforce will benefit greatly.

The 100 part-time positions will also be greatly welcomed by our student population. Part-time jobs are hard to come by in Pullman for WSU students wishing to work their way through school. Health benefits are not an issue for them, as they covered by the university, or their parents in many cases.

A "living wage" is generally defined a wage sufficient to meet the basic needs of a worker and their dependents, usually a total of four people.

The median age in Pullman is 22.5 and 59.15% of the households are non-family households. Chances are anyone from Pullman working at Wal-Mart is not going to be supporting a family of 4.

The living wage issue is just another diversion.
10. We already have a Wal-Mart 7 miles away, and a new Supercenter is being planned for Moscow
Or, as a PARD poster so eloquently put it: "One Wal-Mart is Enough!"

This has got to be the most arrogant, most idiotic, most illogical, and most childish argument they have yet made.

Let's see, by that same rationale: We already have a Safeway 9 miles away, we already have a multiplex cinema 7 miles away, we already have a university 7 miles away, ad absurdum.

Or even better: "One Starbucks is Enough!"

Who is PARD, or anyone else, to judge how many or what type of businesses we have in our community? See, in America, we have a little concept called free enterprise,that says that private business is free to organize and operate for profit in a competitive system without interference by the government. The alternative is Marxism-Leninism or socialism. I for one don't prefer to have one department store where I have to wait in line 10 hours to buy a pair of shoes that don't fit.

This argument also shows how PARD lacks any kind of real concern for Pullman residents. They would gladly see our tax dollars continue to be exported over the border in the name of their jihad against Wal-Mart. I have gone into extensive detail in previous posts about the revenue crisis the city is facing, so I won't say anything else other than suggesting "we already have a fill-in-the-blank" or "a new fill-in-the-blank is being planned" in another state is shortsighted and disloyal in the extreme. How does having anything in Moscow benefit us in Pullman? Or vice versa for that matter? We're neighbors sure, but we're also competitors. Moscow-Pullman is NOT some big hippie commune or Soviet-style collective farm as some would like to believe. We must look out for own interests the way Moscowans do for theirs.

So, there you have it. Out of 10 chances, not one decent argument against Wal-Mart. That is why PARD's effort is doomed. But as Samuel Johnson once said: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." PARD concluded their Top 10 list with this statement:
Pullman citizens and their elected officials have had virtually no say in the Wal-Mart proposal. Is that any for a democracy to work?
Sure it is, in American democracy. As I said earlier, America was founded on the belief in free enterprise. We don't have elections on whether a business can open in town or not, just like we don't have elections to decide who can live here. If you don't like what Wal-Mart sells or how the building looks or the people that shop there, TOUGH! Don't go there. If enough people feel the way you do, then it will close and go out of business. Wal-Mart is the one taking all the risks with their money, not you. You don't like the businesses in town, go out and open your own. That's what America is all about. It's freedom, baby, yeah!

No, PARD doesn't want democracy, they want an oligarchy of the intelligentsia. These arrogant Brahmins want to shape the town according to their leftist, neo-urbanist tastes. After all, they have PhDs! What do we know? Don't believe me? I'm going to publish some extracts from T.V. Reed's SEPA comments to Mark Workman soon and you can judge for yourself.

Why do PARD members hate Wal-Mart so much? Well, there are too many reasons to go into here. I highly recommend reading "The Anti-Wal-Mart Jihad" by Butler Shaffer to gain a better insight into what their motives.

Labor unions abhor Wal-Mart because it has managed to succeed without them. Many of Wal-Mart's competitors despise it because they are lazy. Some Americans don't like bigness. Pure raw capitalism seems to disturb some people. There is nobody bigger or more capitalistic than Wal-Mart.

Liberals loath Wal-Mart's conservative, family-oriented policy of censoring some books, music and movies. They also resent Wal-Mart's big political contributions to conservative Republican political candidates. As one writer put it: "Wal-Mart stands out as a company in the old style - one that plays the capitalist game with enthusiasm, while still espousing values that Christian Americans hold dear." You see how that plays out in ultra-PC modern America. Stopping a Wal-Mart is almost as good as voting Dubya out of the White House.

A lot of opposition, frankly, is based on snobbery. There are those who think Wal-Mart is "ugly" and filled with overweight working class people with their old trucks and SUVs, NASCAR caps, spandex pants, and bawling, snot-nosed kids. Yet these are the same people the liberals say they are supporting. All they are really for is big government regulation of business and social engineering.

And a certain amount of resistance to Wal-Mart is based on nostalgia. These are the people that long for the days of the old five-and-dime store with the soda fountain and penny gumball machines. Times change, and so do people. Retailing has evolved from the shops on Main Street to shopping malls to big-box stores and now to eBay and Internet e-tailers. The businesses that succeed are the ones that learn to adapt to their customer's changing desires and expectations.