Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, January 27, 2006

Ethical Opposition?

There’s a story in the latest edition of the Inlander magazine, the preferred birdcage liner in the Inland Northwest, about Wal-Mart’s latest fight in opening a Supercenter on the South Hill of Spokane.

There are several quotes in the article about Pullman from the PARD Minister of Disinformation, Chris Lupke.
Down in Pullman, this week marked the third meeting to gather public testimony on the proposal for a 225,000-square-foot Supercenter. The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development (PARD) had called for an independent economic study to verify Wal-Mart's claims of positive economic impact on Pullman. Last week, Wal-Mart offered its own economic impact study, but PARD continues to call for the study, with their key word being "independent."

PARD member Christopher Lupke, a professor at WSU, says the fight has become ugly: "It's convulsing the town. Some people are saying we should be run out of the community, that we're communists and un-American. It's shocking. I've never lived in a city where there was less opportunity to speak in a public manner about a project this big.

"We're critical of Wal-Mart, but we have tried to be ethical in the way we express our opposition," Lupke adds. "In the long run, we can change Pullman, but this is coming on very, very fast."
Oh, where to start? First of all, the economic impact study WAS AN INDEPENDENT STUDY. Johnson Gardner is NOT a part of Wal-Mart; they were just hired by CLC, the developer, to conduct the study. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT PARD HAS BEEN CALLING FOR THE PAST SEVEN MONTHS!!!!!!!! Now suddenly when a study says something positive about Wal-Mart, it’s time to totally discredit it. So predictable.

“Convulsing the town”? Hardly. A couple of dozen PARD diehards at most are the only ones left carrying on the fight.

“Communists”? “Un-American”? Hey, if the shoe fits. James Krueger just reminded us earlier this week in a letter to the editor that PARD does not consider either property rights or free enterprise as important in the debate over Wal-Mart. What else would you call it?

Lupke shouldn’t be shocked at the opposition PARD is encountering. Were they that clueless as to how bad the city’s financial situation was and how badly Pullman needs to expand its retail sales tax base? If they weren’t in Moscow so much helping fight the Supercenter there, they might open their eyes and see the reality.

However, I suppose Lupke has some basis to be shocked. There have been very few anti-Wal-Mart groups, especially in the Northwest, that have had to deal with such an organized opposition. Poor PARD. They triumphantly and prematurely proclaimed last May that they had “clearly won the battle for public opinion”. Those days are long gone. Now, PARD is defensive and bitter, complaining about the “ugliness” and “incivility” of the fight and how they are constantly being attacked.

You want a city with more public conversation Chris? Move over to Moscow. The downtown zoning issue there has been debated for over a year now. Do you think that has made Moscow more or less divided? It has made Moscow much more divided. Public hearings on Wal-Mart accomplish nothing. It is the most divisive issue in America today, other than the Iraq war. Too much talking just exacerbates the situation. Everyone has said their piece, now shut up and let someone decide. And by the way, it ain’t gonna be PARD that decides. Sorry. If PARD wants to “change Pullman in the long run”, try getting elected to City Hall. Oh wait……

“Coming on very, very fast”? As opposed to what? Glaciation? Continental drift? Give me a break. This process has taken ten times longer than in other cities in Washington where Wal-Mart has opened. And it’s all PARD’s fault.

Finally, my favorite Lupke quote, "We're critical of Wal-Mart, but we have tried to be ethical in the way we express our opposition".

Let’s catalog PARD’s “ethical opposition”, shall we:

  • Soliciting funds from outside special interest groups that care nothing for Pullman’s future, only their own political agenda.

  • A 10,000-signature petition that contains large numbers of signatures from people who don’t even live in Pullman.

  • A “petition” from local merchants demanding an economic impact study that was circulated under highly dubious circumstances.

  • The use of taxpayer-funded resources at WSU to further PARD’s cause, including facilities, computers, printers, internet and e-mail, not to mention the time of salaried professors.

  • Indoctrinating WSU students with anti-Wal-Mart propaganda and suppressing free speech in classrooms.

  • Dangling Target out as a red herring to lure people away from supporting Wal-Mart.

  • Stating that Wal-Mart would destroy the public education system.

  • Blaming the city’s financial woes on Wal-Mart supporters.

  • Attacking city government as somehow being in cahoots with Wal-Mart.

  • Spreading irresponsible and hysterical lies about Wal-Mart desecrating/raping/deflowering/fill-in-your-favorite-hyperbole-here the
    Pullman City Cemetery, which they have dishonorably compared to Normandy and Arlington Cemetery.

  • Spreading further reckless lies about Wal-Mart traffic leading to dead school kids and grannies lying in the streets, along with feverish babies dying on the way to the Emergency Room.

  • Insulting the vast majority of Whitman County residents by saying the “lower socio-economic class is attracted to Wal-Mart” so therefore “crime will go up”.

  • Ridiculously asserting that Wal-Mart will ruin the sex lives of Pullman residents.

  • Claiming Wal-Mart would kill all the fish in the Palouse River and flood the town.

  • Lying and blaming Wal-Mart for the proposed increase in Pullman water and sewer rates.

  • The use of mounds and mounds of unsusbtantiated and one-sided anecdotal evidence that has nothing to do with Pullman.

  • And then this little slam job from a letter in today’s Moscow-Pullman Daily
  • Keep downtown parking

    From an interview in the Jan. 12 Daily News article “Traffic flow plan draws ire on Grand Ave.,” and from a letter to the editor in the Jan. 14 issue, I see that April Coggins wants it both ways. She wants on-street parking in front of her business and a Wal-Mart Supercenter larger than all retail space in the downtown area.

    Why do you think the city of Pullman wants to take away on-street parking on both sides of Grand Avenue for two blocks where it intersects with Main? Haven’t you read Wal-Mart’s own traffic study stating that if they build there will be more than 11,000 more trips on Bishop Boulevard every day?

    Don’t you think many of those vehicles will be coming through the center of Pullman from the north? How can downtown businesses not be affected by this Wal-Mart Supercenter when the city clearly wants to eliminate downtown street parking in order to help deal with increased traffic Wal-Mart would cause?

    “Parking lots are not reasonable for many people. Even if people are physically able (to walk), it’s not attractive for many customers,” Coggins said. How far do you think you will have to walk at the super center’s 1,000 space parking lot?

    Let’s keep downtown on-street parking and build more modestly sized stores on Bishop Boulevard.

    Janet Damm, Pulman
    This is nothing new of course. Anyone that has the temerity to support Wal-Mart or challenge PARD publicly in the newspaper quickly gets a retaliatory attack from the "champions of free speech".

    I could go on and on and on. Basically, PARD will do or say anything to keep Wal-Mart out of Pullman (or Moscow or anywhere else for that matter) It’s a jihad. If you think of something else, please let me know and I’ll add it.

    If this is their idea of “ethical opposition”, then the only thing I’ll ever agree with Chris Lupke on is that PARD should be run out of the community.


    April E. Coggins said...

    Thanks Tom,
    Anyone who knows me also knows that I love Pullman and I will stand up to defend my town. My future and Pullman's future are the same.

    PARD is the same passing parade that Pullman has witnessed in years past. The difference this time is that the people of Pullman are standing up to the negativity.

    April E. Coggins said...

    Tim Paul, my business neighbor and born local, also had an excellent letter tonight. I am very proud of my generation of Pullman supporters!