Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, January 27, 2006

"Public hearing closes on Pullman Wal-Mart"

From today's Lewiston Tribune:
By DAVID JOHNSON
of the Tribune

PULLMAN -- A public hearing on proposed construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter here ended Thursday after more than two days of testimony stretched over three weeks.

Hearing examiner John Montgomery, a Spokane lawyer, said he likely would return a written determination within 14 days to either uphold or deny a citizen group's appeal of city decisions to allow construction of the super center. He could also offer modifications to the city's findings or call for more research.

Regardless of what Montgomery decides, Wal-Mart, the city of Pullman, and the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development have a right to appeal the decision to Whitman County Superior Court.

Wal-Mart attorney John McCullough of Seattle closed his portion of the hearing by reasserting the claim that the world's largest retail company had satisfied all requirements placed on it by the city.

Attorney Brian McGinn, who represents PARD, begged to differ, contending that, among other things, many traffic and economic questions remain unanswered about the proposed 223,000-square-foot store along Bishop Boulevard.

T.V. Reed, spokesman for PARD, said he and other citizens opposed to the super center never wanted the city to treat Wal-Mart differently. But he said city officials failed to hold Wal-Mart to standards outlined in the city comprehensive plan.

Laura McAloon, Pullman city attorney, disagreed. She said the city continues to hold Wal-Mart to the same standards all businesses must meet.

Reed and others said the city needs to conduct an independent study to determine the economic impact on the community.

But McAloon said the city can only review what financial impact the Wal-Mart Supercenter might have on city infrastructure and services, not the economy of the private sector.

Of particular concern to Reed and other PARD members was a Wal-Mart-funded economic study unveiled last week. Bill Reid, a private consultant, reported an estimated 49 percent of Pullman's potential retail sales is lost annually because of "leakage" to other towns like Moscow, Lewiston and Spokane.

Reid said a new Wal-Mart store would tap into that leakage, bring increased sales taxes back to town and, in the process, "raise all boats" in the private sector.

But Gregory Hooks, a Washington State University sociology professor, harpooned Reid's study as a late-hour ploy to "advance the interests of corporate executives and those who own stock in this large corporation based in Arkansas."

A number of residents who testified Thursday agreed with Hooks, while others didn't.

Alex McDonald, a WSU engineering student, said the Wal-Mart study erroneously assumed that students spending elsewhere figured in the amount of retail leakage. "It's only a few rich kids who buy stuff here locally," McDonald said. Most students, he claimed, buy their clothing and supplies in their home towns before coming to campus each year.

Susan Johnson, a house mother at a WSU sorority, disagreed. She said most of the women in her house shop out of town, and many at the Wal-Mart store in Moscow.

Dennis Wendt, a Pullman business owner, agreed with Johnson, saying WSU students go elsewhere to buy many items like plants, mirrors, furniture, microwave ovens, refrigerators and other appliances.

Ann Borgerson testified that she's had a change of heart about Wal-Mart. "I confess that I've shopped at Wal-Mart for an awful long time," she said. But she said the products she bought were usually inferior and she's now concerned about "the people who make the goods."

The Pullman hearings came amid Wal-Mart proposals to build super centers in neighboring Moscow and north in Spokane.

Reed charged that the company is willing to saturate markets and lose money in the short run to prevail down the road when competition is forced out of business.

He likened Wal-Mart paying for an economic study to hiring "foxes to count the chickens."
"Foxes counting the chickens"? I'll agree that Reed's statement has something to do with chickens alright, but more along the lines of something you shovel out of the henhouse.

  • From Christoper Lupke's letter to the editor of the Daily Evergreen on January 13: “The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development (PARD) would like to see Wal-Mart commission an independent fiscal impact study of our local economy, as they have agreed to do in other comparable communities across the nation. What do they have to fear from such a study?”

  • From PARD's Press Release of January 12, 2006: "Requiring Wal-Mart to pay for a fiscal impact study is another possible outcome, given the fact that Wal-Mart has agreed to do this elsewhere when compelled."

  • From a letter to the editor of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News by Cynthia Hosick last August: "As a 32-year Pullman resident and former downtown business partner, I firmly believe that Wal-Mart owes Pullman an economic impact study before they enter this marketplace."

  • And let's not forget the infamous "Nineteen Pullman Merchants" petition created by Citizen Hosick that said, "The timing is perfect to request that Wal-Mart fund such a study as part of their entry in to the Pullman retail community."

  • This same demand has been echoed repeatedly for the past six months in letters to the editor. So PARD gets EXACTLY what they want, and as I predicted, because it did not agree with them, they immediately start condemning it. ENOUGH OF THIS HYPOCRISY!!!!

    2 comments:

    CrazyAl said...

    Check this out:

    http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=012707A

    Ray Lindquist said...

    WOW - Crazyal - That was a great piece, thanks for posting it.

    Here is a quote from that piece:

    Thomas Sowell “Notions of menial jobs and dead-end jobs may be just shallow misconceptions among the intelligentsia but they are a deadly counterproductive message to the poor. Refusing to get on the bottom rung of the ladder usually means losing your chance to move up the ladder.”


    That piece shows how if we had MORE Wal-Marts; it would push up the wages, very interesting point. That is a good one and PARD never seems to understand that as the piece points neither doses Maryland.