Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, January 16, 2006

An Embarrassment of Loons

There’s a bevy of quail, a gaggle of geese, and a cast of hawks. Based on field observations Friday, I have coined a new ornithological term: an embarrassment of loons.

Submitted for your approval: some reports from various observers at Friday’s Wal-Mart appeal hearing you didn’t see in the Daily News:

  • Parking lot at Gladish Center was full at 10:15 AM.

  • About 100-150 present at the start of the hearing. Crowd was easily two-to-one in favor of Wal-Mart. There was an older gentleman who, when asked at the sign up sheet, if he cared to make any comments, said something like, "Hell yes! I want to say that no one can tell me where to shop and what stores can open in Pullman”. Humorously and perhaps predictably, Wal-Mart supporters sat on the right hand side of the auditorium and PARD supporters sat on the left.

  • Mark Workman made a great case on behalf of the city.

  • As expected, PARD trotted out WSU professors as “experts’ to testify. They were a real joke. Very little of PARD's case had anything to do with Pullman and the specific building site plan. We heard a lot of “hot air" yesterday. PARD only questioned the decisions; they did not at any time try to provide proof for their beliefs. It was as if they say it, it makes it all true. As one attendee who left early noted, "My capacity for gasbags was less than I'd imagined."

  • Deirdre Rogers, Assistant Professor of Justice Studies at U of I, testified that because of Wal-Mart's low prices, they attract people from the lower end of the socioeconomic scale and it's been proven time and again that those low income people are usually criminals. A number of people walked out at that remark. Also, after the bars close 18-to-24 year olds always come to "hang-out" at Wal-Mart. They will cause "extra" crime in the well lit parking lot. Unless we have some way to stop this behavior we are doomed. But don't we already have two large groups of these age people in the area [HINT: WSU & U of I]? If we don't shut down areas where all these people gather, we are in for a serious crime wave. She also testified that Wal-Mart allows RV's to park over night in their lot. It was her contention that when RV's get together, drinking is the result. It was a real knee-slapper.

  • The Hearing Examiner asked Rogers if any of the "crime studies" she cited were relevant to PULLMAN. Of course, none of them were. Touche’!

  • The only new information revealed is that the ground-penetrating radar survey of the cemetery by EWU has concluded that it is highly unlikely that anyone is buried outside of the boundaries.

  • James Krueger spoke about Wal-Mart lights shining in EVERY window in Pullman. His research (or someone else's research) has found that light leads to sleep deprivation in deer and sleep deprivation leads to a loss of testosterone which leads to a loss of sex drive in bucks. Apparently then, the Wal-Mart Supercenter will lead to an impotency epidemic in Pullman.

  • So let's string together Rogers' testimony and James Krueger’s testimony that Wal-Mart lights will shine into every window in Pullman. RV's are going to park overnight under lights so bright that they will shine into every window in Pullman. It's easy to understand why they will be drinking. They certainly won't be sleeping.

  • It was pretty much an open mike. About 1 PM, PARD ran out of things to say. Their continuous rehashing brought about a tired change in what they were saying. PARD was allowed to go on their crazy tirade unimpeded. Like a two year old that goes to sleep while throwing a major fit. At the 2:00 PM lunch break, they were running out of speakers and they were re-running themselves. The transcripts should provide lots of entertainment.

  • After the lunch break, a house mother from one of the Greek houses spoke for Wal-Mart. She said that her college students desperately need the jobs that Wal-Mart will provide. That she would like to do her shopping in Pullman. Her sister is disabled and Wal-Mart is the only company that has been willing to give her sister a job.

  • A man who lives on Military Hill said that Wal-Mart has the right to build, he would like to shop in Pullman, and he is tired of leaving town to shop. He pretty much gave the free enterprise, free choice speech.

  • Both of these Wal-Mart supporters inadvertently sat with the PARD group and when they made their statements, they gave them from the PARD mike, right in the middle of PARD. It was great!

  • A young gentleman was that spoke about being property owner that adjoins the Wal-Mart site but that was VERY moving. He said that he was in construction trade and dealt with the city planning staff and had VERY high praise for them. Carroll Hayden said in closing that “…instead of the trucks and bucks going to Moscow, the BUCKS & Trucks need to start to stop in Pullman.”

  • R. B. Olson, a Pullman developer, was given a tremendous round of applause following his emotional testimony in favor of Wal-Mart.

  • TV Reed just talked. He didn't seem to say anything. If he did, no one seemed to listen. YAWN!

  • Don Orlich ranted about Wal-Mart desecrating the cemetery and cutting down all the "old growth" trees. Apparently, clear-cutting can be added to Wal-Mart's list of offenses now.

  • Jason Rogers complained about having a fine view of the cemetery and now he will only be able to see Wal-Mart. He also complained about “depriving our children of stars at night” because Wal-Mart lights would be too bright. He also said that a real estate expert, he couldn't remember who, said that houses near Wal-Mart lose 20 per cent of their market value. He demanded Wal-Mart cut him a check.

  • Apparently, PARD thinks Wal-Mart delivery trucks will be coming from Moscow. A truck driver, who was sitting with the PARD group, explained how difficult it would be to maneuver a semi on to Fairmount which would lead to more backed up traffic. He also refuted the idea that WSU students would be hired by Wal-Mart because everyone knows students won't keep a schedule and Wal-Mart insists on employees working a specific schedule, usually 8 hours.

  • Cynthia Hosick explained how difficult it would be for the delivery trucks to make the corner at Main and Bishop. She was conceding at that point and was making revision suggestions.

  • Nella VanDyke said she would be buried in Colfax instead of Pullman if Wal-Mart was allowed to build.

  • PARD members said a few times that Wal-Mart should be required to promise that if they vacate their building, they will tear it down and turn it into a park. One person doesn't want a park; they want low income housing put there.

  • There was never any mention of the 10,000 signature petition or the "Nineteen Pullman Merchants" petition, which was interesting.

  • PARD finally wound themselves down to accepting Wal-Mart but wants to put berms, concrete walls, sound barriers, etc. to protect from sight, noise, light, odor pollution that a Wal-Mart “will no doubt bring”.

  • The first hearing was over before 6:00 PM. The hearing examiner stretched it out as long as possible to give everyone a chance to speak and finally no one came forward.

  • So, after meeting every week for the last year, after press conferences, petitions and propaganda films, all the "best and brightest" blowhards of the College of Liberal Arts could do is recite studies they found on the Wal-Mart Watch web site, spread unfounded and ridiculous rumors, and prove once and for all that they are arrogant snobs who despise the people they are supposedly trying to "save". The most original objections they could come up with are that the deer population will decline and there will be a critical shortage of Viagra in Pullman.

    An embarassment of loons indeed.

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