Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, January 27, 2006

"Wal-Mart discussion ends with public testimony"

From today's Daily Evergreen:

After this hearing, the examiner will have 30 days to make a decision.


After both lawyers presented closing arguments, people on either side of the Pullman Wal-Mart issue testified until the final minutes of the hearing Thursday.

Jack McCullough, the attorney representing Wal-Mart, closed by arguing that the appellate, Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development, made a lot of claims but did not have any facts because they did not conduct any studies to refute Wal-Mart’s findings.

“It isn’t enough to raise mere flaws and emissions because even if such flaws and emissions existed,” McCullough said, “they didn’t present enough information to show adverse impact.”

The arguments raised by PARD about the impacts Wal-Mart has had in different towns were not relevant to this case, McCullough said.

“Reports and studies of other locations and jurisdictions are not relevant to determining impact here,” McCullough said.

McCullough said the only conclusion the hearing examiner can come to is to deny the appeals.

PARD attorney Brian McGinn refuted McCullough’s closing arguments and said the two lawyers had a different understanding on who had the burden of proof.

After the attorneys finished their closing arguments, the examiner opened the hearing for public testimony.

Carroll Hayden attended two of the hearings. The community showed they want Wal-Mart when they elected City Council members who support economic growth in November’s elections, he said. It would give people a place to shop in Pullman so they don’t have to leave the city, he said.

“Let the Wal-Mart truck and the Whitman County buck stop at Pullman,” Hayden said.

Gregory Hooks testified and said he felt like the opportunity for public comment came too late to make an impact.

“I haven’t done a study,” Hooks said about the possible negative impacts of Wal-Mart on Pullman. “The city didn’t ask me to do a study because the city wasn’t talking to me.”

Lia Wilson testified and said she and her family shop at Wal-Mart because it is more affordable for them. She would like Wal-Mart to come to Pullman so she can support the city by spending money in Pullman rather than Moscow.

Pullman Public Works Director Mark Workman said he thought the hearing went well.

The hearing examiner will have 30 days to make his decision, Workman said. He can either affirm the decision, remand the case for further information or reverse the decision based on a number of reasons outlined in the City Code. The Pullman City Code may be accessed at http://ci.pullman.wa.us/.

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