Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"PARD Loses Wal-Mart Appeal"

Michelle Dupler had a well-written, in-depth and balanced article on the denial of PARD's appeals in last Saturday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Super center one step closer to reality in Pullman; Hearing examiner adds two traffic light conditions

The verdict on Pullman’s proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter is in.

Other than two conditions regarding traffic lights, Hearing Examiner John Montgomery on Friday approved Wal-Mart’s site plan.

He upheld Public Works Director Mark Workman’s determination of non-significance regarding Wal-Mart’s environmental checklist, finding “no credible evidence” that a Wal-Mart would cause urban blight. During three days of public hearings, members of the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development argued that it would.

“It’s what I expected,” Workman said. “We really did do an awful lot of work in going through this process. Really, I think it’s a good decision.”

Wal-Mart submitted its application to build a 223,000-square-foot store and 1,000-car parking lot on Bishop Boulevard in October 2004. Local residents formed PARD in January 2005 to oppose the retail giant’s plan.

Workman issued the determination of non-significance on Wal-Mart’s State Environmental Policy Act checklist Aug. 25. The DNS is a finding that the store will have no significant impact on the surrounding environment. His decision approving Wal-Mart’s site plan was delivered Sept. 22.

PARD appealed both decisions, alleging the Wal-Mart store will have serious negative effects on the environment, traffic and Pullman’s economy.

Both the city of Pullman and Wal-Mart defended the site plan and SEPA checklist during three days of public hearings, arguing the documents met all applicable standards.

Montgomery based his decision on testimony by the public and expert witnesses, along with volumes of written evidence and comments on issues including traffic, stormwater drainage, noise and light pollution and urban blight.

Montgomery could have denied the application outright — meaning Wal-Mart would not be allowed to build in Pullman — if he had found the evidence in the record didn’t support the city’s decision, said City Attorney Laura McAloon.

Instead, Montgomery chose only to require the completion of a traffic signal at the intersection of Bishop Boulevard and Fairmount Road before Wal-Mart can obtain an occupancy certificate for the store. Montgomery also is requiring the installation of a traffic signal and a right turn lane at the intersection of Bishop Boulevard and Professional Mall Boulevard before Wal-Mart can open a gas station that may be built some time in the future. The gas station is not part of the plans Wal-Mart submitted to the city.

Either of those options may cost the city more money than it planned, McAloon said. The traffic signal at Bishop Boulevard and Fairmount Road will cost about $160,000, Workman said. Wal-Mart offered to pay 20 percent of the cost, but Montgomery found this amount was not in proportion with the traffic Wal-Mart will generate at the intersection. He did not say whether Wal-Mart’s contribution is too high or too low.

The city applied for a grant from Washington’s Transportation Improvement Board to pay its share of the cost of the traffic signal. That application was denied.

“Other funding options will need to be explored,” Workman said. He doesn’t know what those options might be.

McAloon suggested one possibility may be for the city to seek additional funding from Wal-Mart for the traffic signal. Wal-Mart will end up paying a greater share for the traffic light at Grand and Fairmount.

The presence of a bridge over the South Fork of the Palouse River at the intersection of Bishop Boulevard and Professional Mall Boulevard makes the requirement for widening of the road and installation of a traffic signal at that location challenging, Workman said.

“We need to look at it a little more,” he said.

Montgomery allows for waiver of the requirement for improvements at Bishop Boulevard and Professional Mall Boulevard if Wal-Mart performs another traffic impact analysis of the intersection after the store opens.

PARD members have argued for more than a year that a Wal-Mart store in Pullman will drive away other businesses and create urban blight in the city. They repeatedly have called for the city to commission an independent fiscal impact study that would examine the possible economic effects a Wal-Mart would have on Pullman. PARD members argued such a study is required by SEPA.

“Economic impact is not, in and of itself, an element of the environment under SEPA,” Montgomery concluded. “No credible evidence exists to suggest that urban blight will result from approval of the proposal under SEPA. The mere suggestion of such does not establish a significant environmental concern requirement preparation of a Final Impact Analysis under SEPA or a fiscal impact analysis.”

That confirms what many Pullman residents have argued all along, said Tom Forbes, a Wal-Mart supporter and member of Businesses and Residents for Economic Opportunity.

“Not only does evidence not exist to support the idea of urban blight, we believe evidence exists (Wal-Mart) will stimulate the Pullman economy,” Forbes said. “Now that approval has come, we think we’ll start to see new businesses announced.”

PARD also raised concerns about light pollution and stormwater discharge. Montgomery found Wal-Mart adequately addressed those issues in its application.

Numerous residents made arguments during the public hearings that Wal-Mart’s proposed location adjacent to the Pullman Cemetery may have a negative impact on the atmosphere at the cemetery. There was some question whether the boundaries of the store site overlap the cemetery’s original boundaries.

Montgomery found no evidence to suggest graves would be disturbed by construction of the store, but required that construction must stop if any human remains are found.

The decision can be appealed to the Whitman County Superior Court by the city, Wal-Mart or PARD within 21 days. Appeals must conform to guidelines set forth in Washington’s Land Use Petition Act, McAloon said.

Neither the city nor PARD could say Friday whether they might appeal.

“We’re not ruling out any alternatives,” said PARD spokesman Christopher Lupke. I'm sure they're not.

Representatives for Wal-Mart could not be reached for comment.

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Hearing Examiner's Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and Decision

The City of Pullman has just posted the Hearing Examiner's Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and Decision with regard to the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter here.

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Undesirable Social Classes

From the Hearing Examiner's decision, under "Fiscal Impacts":
Testimony was presented [from PARD] regarding a lack of social responsibility of Wal-Mart to the communities, and jurisdictions in which they locate. Suggestions of increased crime, the intrusion of undesirable social classes, low wages, failure to provide medical benefits, were presented in great detail.
"The intrusion of undesirable social classes?" That kind of classism sounds more like 1918 Petrograd than 2006 Pullman. Beginning with Lenin, the Communists in Russia systematically discriminated against people who came from "undesirable social classes", such as the former aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, and the upper ranks of the peasantry.

It was all about "public safety" then too.

Anyone who believes this is about traffic lights, or human remains, or seasonal wetlands, or urban blight, or stormwater runoff, or even deer testicles, is kidding him or herself.

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

The anti-Wal-Mart letters to the editor just keep getting funnier. From yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
We all could be birds in a box

I was in Wal-Mart recently and my heart went out to the little finches fluttering around inside the store desperately seeking a way back out of that big box.

They didn’t know what they were getting themselves into when they flew in, or how difficult it would be to find a way back out. They will adapt to living inside a box away from the sunshine and green growing things, and will survive by pecking holes in the dog food bags – for a while. Are they the canaries in a coal mine, showing what is “in store” for us?

A developer is in the process of trying to put a set of big boxes in a wheat field on the Whitman County side of the state line. Moscow will soon make the decision about whether to allow 77 acres on the east side of town to be converted from agricultural land into more big boxes. That is the equivalent of turning a space the size of downtown, (A Street to Seventh Street, and Washington Street to Jackson Street) into concrete and asphalt. Moscow doesn’t have a cap on the size of the boxes they can build or any say in what happens to the boxes abandoned or put out of business by the “development.”

We aren’t yet walled inside the boxes the developers are trying to build for us. But like the little birds, it will be very difficult to find our way back to the sunlight and green space once we go there. Living things don’t survive well in concrete and asphalt even if it is warm and lit up all the time.

The time is now to decide which kind of green our community needs most.

Get involved.

Krista Kramer, Moscow
Uhhh, Krista, people aren't birds. I've yet to hear of anyone who got trapped in a Wal-Mart and couldn't figure out how to leave.

In fact, anyone who shops at Wal-Mart does so of their own free will. They have a say in what happens to those "boxes" every day with their wallets. Apparently, Krista was at Wal-Mart and voted for a "big box" store too, unless she happened to be there on an Audubon Society field trip.

That's how we decide in a free society whether or not a particular business "deserves" to be in our community. In Moscow, the question is not about which kind of "green" they need most, but how "red" they want to become.

Since we're talking ornithology, the species that come to my mind are the ostrich, for those that are sticking their heads in the sand, the loon, for those opposing Wal-Mart, and the dodo bird, just as extinct as Moscow's retail community is about to become.

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Big Box... Poor Bird

I was in Wal-Mart recently and my heart went out to the little finches fluttering around inside the store desperately seeking a way back out of that big box.

They didn't know what they were getting themselves into when they flew in, or how difficult it would be to find a way back out. They will adapt to living inside a box away from the sunshine and green growing things, and will survive by pecking holes in the dog food bags – for a while.

Sorry, I am still laughing too hard to write anything at all!

Monday, February 27, 2006

"The High Benefit of Low Prices"

Speaking of Dr. William Anderson, he has just published a paper for the Maryland Public Policy Institute titled The High Benefit of Low Prices. It is a rousing and erudite defense of Wal-Mart against the elitists who are waging war against it (and the public who shops there).

Some quotes:
A recent Zogby poll, for example, found that 38 percent of the American public has an “unfavorable” view of Wal-Mart, whereas only 13 percent of the individuals polled had negative views of Target, another “big box” retailer, but a company that does not engage as aggressively in price cutting and discounting merchandise as does Wal-Mart.

The popularity of the notion that Wal-Mart is “bad for America” can be attributed to a number of factors. First, the organizations that are leading the anti-Wal-Mart campaigns generally receive favorable press from journalists. Second, by enjoying almost unlimited access to friendly and prominent news media sources, these groups have been able to push a continuous message with almost no opposition or objective scrutiny. Sound familiar? Have we not been seing this for the last year or so in Pullman?

Third, because the nature of large-scale retailing is murky to most people—including most economists—economic fallacies prevail where firms like Wal-Mart are concerned. Wal-Mart’s actions and their community effects can best be explained by the economics of large-scale retailers, and with an understanding of why they are extremely vital to a community’s overall economic health.

Hopefully, policymakers at all levels of government will end their war on Wal-Mart and the opportunities the company provides to shoppers and employees. Right now, the prospects are less-than-hopeful, and if this war continues, many people will pay a high cost for this war on low prices.
I HIGHLY recommend reading Dr. Anderson's paper. It will definitely enlighten you.

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Uncle Buck Makes the Big Time

The story of James Krueger and Bambi's Quest for Viagra was recently featured on the blog at LewRockwell.com. LewRockwell.com is one of the better known national Libertarian/Conservative web sites.

The following was posted by Thomas DiLorenzo on January 25, 2006:
Will Wal-Mart Give Away Free Birth Control?

John T. from Pullman, Washington sent me an article from the Jan. 21 Pullman Daily News about all the political hoops Wal-Mart has to jump through to build a store on its own private property there. It cited some of the usual left-wing nuts in opposition, including one Professor James Kreuger of Washington State University who argued at the hearing that "light pollution could cause Pullman men to become impotent. He based his claim on research involving deer."

Well, strike up another benefit to having Wal-Mart in your town: free birth control.
To which William T.Anderson replied:
Wal-Mart Hysteria: The Madness Continues (and Continues....)

Tom's entry about Wal-Mart and Pullman, Washington, reminds me of what happened at a recent faculty computer training course I took here at Frostburg State. Some liberal arts faculty were there, and whenever we had discussion board exercises or anything like that, someone would bring up Wal-Mart, and then the jihad would continue. It is hard to comprehend the obsession that the "social justice" elites, plus all of their allies in the clergy, media, and universities have with Wal-Mart.

Of course, all of them are supportive of the recent anti-Wal-Mart bill that the Maryland legislature passed, and I suspect that they want nothing less than for the store to be destroyed and the company go out of business. Furthermore, this obsession is not limited to leftists; the Chronicles crowd of "social conservatives" is just as nutty on this subject as my leftist colleagues at FSU.

This madness is only going to get worse over the next few years, as more and more politicians are going to base their campaigns on anti-Wal-Mart themes. Two years ago, Theresa Heinz Kerry -- who shops at places where people need references just to walk in the door -- declared that "Wal-Mart destroys communities." This year, expect even more of the same.

Nor will it let up during the upcoming presidential campaign. When Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, Hillary Clinton served on the Wal-Mart board of directors. I can guarantee you that her service for Wal-Mart (one of the few positive things she has done in her career) will be a central campaign issue during the Democratic Primary, and it will be interesting to see how she turns that into an attack on the company.

All of this is evil, and it is madness. It also is another example of how all these people who claim to love the "little guy" actually are contemptuous of such folk.
Dr. Anderson is an assistant professor of Economics at Frostburg State University and an adjunct scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He was featured in Ron Galloway's film Why Wal-Mart Works and Why That Drives Some People C-R-A-Z-Y.

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“Denied appeal ends Wal-Mart debate”

More coverage on the denial of PARD’s appeals, this time from Kelsey Moll of the Daily Evergreen. All in all, a very fair, balanced and accurate story.

After three hearing sessions and almost 30 days, hearing examiner John Montgomery decided Friday to deny appeals to the proposed Wal-Mart. Or to paraphrase Chris Lupke and TV Reed, “PARD’s dumb deal is done.”

“In some ways it’s a mixed decision,” City Supervisor John Sherman said. “The hearing examiner denied the appeal but he required some changes.” A mixed decision? That’s like saying the Super Bowl was a mixed decision because Seattle had more offensive yards than Pittsburgh. But I don’t think the Seahawks cared a whit about that, as the Steelers were the ones who walked away with the rings and the Lombardi Trophy.

The conditions include requirements for Wal-Mart to put in a traffic signal on Bishop Boulevard and Fairmont Road. Before the appeal, Wal-Mart was going to wait until the traffic volume required the signal, but now the signal must be operational before the store opens.

The original agreement was that Wal-Mart would pay for 20 percent of the cost of the new signal, but the hearing examiner decided the percentage could be negotiated and decided by the city, Sherman said.

“There are a lot of mixed opinions out there whether it’s a good or bad development for Pullman, but at least we do have finality,” Sherman said. “Hopefully the community can move beyond the controversy.” The community can. It’s just the couple of dozen diehard PARD jihadis that can’t and won’t

There is a chance for another appeal if Wal-Mart or Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development wants to file, Sherman said. The appeal is to the superior court and the petition must be filed by March 20. There’s more than just a chance of another appeal. The smart money (and the union money) has us going into Round 15 of the Ideology vs. Common Sense title fight.

There has been talk of putting the Wal-Mart issue to public vote, Sherman said, but the city can not do that because the property where Wal-Mart wants to build is zoned for that type of use. I hope John Sherman was either joking or misquoted. A public vote on Wal-Mart would be the most spectacularly stupid idea in the history of Pullman. The city would be bankrupted from the resultant lawsuit, and the precedent that would be set would virtually guarantee that Pullman would never see a new business open again.

TV Reed, legal liaison for PARD, said the hearing examiner agreed with many of their suggestions but could not legally make a change because of the property’s zoning. Agreed with many of their suggestions? What decision is Reed reading? The one I have says the following:

  • No credible evidence exists to suggest that urban blight will result from approval of the proposal under SEPA. The mere suggestion of such does not establish a significant environmental concern requiring preparation of a Final Impact Analysis under SEPA or a fiscal impact analysis (sorry Cynthia Hosick, you’ll just have to harass the Hawkins Companies to pay for your grand Palouse-wide economic impact study now or keep letting your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages).

  • Wal-Mart has mitigated impacts of its proposal on the Pullman Cemetery (sorry Bob Grunewald, the “ass-end” awaits).

  • Wal-Mart is without legal ability to remove existing trees within the cemetery site (sorry Don Orlich, it was a vicious rumor that Wal-Mart was going to cut down any of the “old growth” trees around the cemetery).

  • As mitigated the proposal does not result in a significant environmental impact requiring the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement and the DNS is approved.

  • Although expert testimony was introduced stating impacts from surface runoff, the plans comply in all respects with the existing laws of the City of Pullman and pertinent laws and regulations of the State of Washington.

  • The exterior lighting scheme sufficiently mitigates any environmental harm requiring further mitigation or additional study. The proposed lighting plan does not arise to a level adversely affecting the environment within an urbanized area particularly when reasonable effort has been made to reduce fugitive light (sorry James Krueger, I guess the deer testicles will be shriveling after all).

  • The proposal complies with other laws of the City of Pullman including generally its Comprehensive Plan (sorry Marcie Gilliland).

  • “It was clear in the decision that the hearing examiner heard and took seriously a number of concerns that PARD raised, but the limited zoning laws and low standards the city has in environmental, traffic and other areas, left him very little room to support our efforts,” Reed said. It’s reassuring to see that PARD is already at “Anger” in the Five Stages of Grieving. The first stage, “Denial”, was obvious from the comments on the PARD website, which don’t even mention that their appeals were denied, rather taking credit for a “significant mitigation” and “improving public safety”. This ludicrous contention has been repeated all over the media (see Reed’s comments below). Just three more stages to go now until “Acceptance”.

    It makes it clear Pullman needs to make comprehensive zoning laws in order to have a safe community, Reed said.

    PARD is disappointed with the decision as a whole, but glad there is going to be significant mitigation.

    “Because of the actions of many Pullman citizens, the project as outlined is better than the original but still has flaws that need to be addressed,” Reed said. I’m sure the flaws are that Wal-Mart is allowed to build at all or even to exist.

    PARD will discuss whether they will appeal the decision at their meeting on Wednesday, Reed said. The only thing to discuss Wednesday night is if the UFCW will pony up the money for the appeal. And why shouldn’t they? Even though PARD has no prayer of winning, they can hold up Wal-Mart that much longer for what to the union is a drop in the bucket financially.

    Tom Forbes, co-founder of Businesses and Residents for Economic Opportunity, said BREO is happy with the decision.

    “It’s a great day for Pullman,” Forbes said. “Hopefully we can move forward and reap the benefits of economic growth in Pullman.”

    People had a chance to speak their mind about the project and the third-party hearing examiner took the comments into consideration while making his decision, Forbes said.

    “We hope that everyone would think about Pullman’s future and join us in welcoming Wal-Mart to our community,” he said.

    Sherman said he is glad a decision has been made and hopes it will put an end to the community division.

    “Whether we agree with it or not, I think we have to respect the opinion that he’s rendered,” Sherman said. Are you listening PARDners?

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    NewsTalk 1150 Story on Pullman Supercenter Approval

    With big thanks to Dale Courtney at Right Mind, click here to listen to the news story that aired this morning.

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    Sunday, February 26, 2006

    "Not rich or white, but he was male"

    More on the UW Pappy Boyington controversy, this time from commentator Michael Costello in yesterday's Lewiston Tribune. Michael's satirical take on Political Correctness run amuck is hilarious. A version of this column with web links can be found at Michael's blog The Pajamahadin
    Clearly the student senators at the University of Washington have earned their certifications for that school's upper division political correctness curriculum. Asked if they would approve a memorial to World War II hero and University of Washington graduate Gregory (Pappy) Boyington, the senators gave a thumbs down on the basis that the university already had too many memorials to "rich white men."

    In doing so, they demonstrated the clarity of thinking that would qualify them to write for the news division at the New York Times, sit in the anchor's chair at a major broadcast network, or get a teaching certificate from Washington State University.

    In characterizing Boyington as a rich white man, the senators were correct once: Boyington was a man. That gives them a score of 33 percent on content, which easily deserves at least a B-plus. There's no reason to pollute their minds with the facts that Boyington was a Coeur d'Alene-born Indian who was poor throughout his life.

    What really matters is the A-plus the senators earned by slurring all men, all people of pallor, and all who prosper after graduation from the U as unworthy of recognition. Historical accuracy be damned! What matters is that these senators have properly absorbed the proper measure of cultural bigotry. The only thing missing from their smear is a reference to his sexual orientation. Surely there exists nothing on this planet more loathsome than a rich white heterosexual man.

    Further, Boyington warranted his disrespect from the student senate for killing people. Murderers like Boyington are not the sort of person that the University of Washington should be producing, the senators concluded.

    Pappy Boyington was the Marine Corps' top fighter ace in the Pacific theater during World War II. He is credited with destroying enemy planes, including six he destroyed with the Fighting Tigers in China before the United States was officially in the war. For defending the evil United States and killing his nation's enemies, he deserved no more plaudits than that other famous serial murderer and Ewe Dub graduate, Ted Bundy.

    Now that they have gained certification for upper division education, I would advise the senators to step up and take on a real rich white man who also killed people who is certainly even less deserving of recognition than Boyington. This vermin's name was George Washington, and the Ewe Dub is named after him. And so, every building, tree, every blade of grass on campus is a monument to the murderous rich white male who killed people and is even more disgusting than Boyington because Washington owned slaves. And as Boyington fought to defend his country, Washington is actually the father of this, the most oppressive and imperialist nation on earth.

    If the University of Washington student senators are to move up to the next level, they should introduce a resolution demanding that the university rename itself, with a suggestion that the Washington Legislature rename the entire state.

    Future projects for Ewe Dub students could be renaming the Columbia River. After all, this river is not named for the country that supplies one of the Puget Sound's favorite recreational drugs. It's named after that genocidal monster, Christopher Columbus. As a historic teammate of Adolf Hitler, he deserve to have his named expunged from the maps of the world.

    Renaming the city of Seattle is another worthy project. After all, Seattle is an Indian name and a favorite cause of the cultural left is assuming that any use of Indian names is disrespectful and should be ended. When the Seahawks played the team from Washington, D.C., in the NFC playoff game, the Seattle Times rewrote its stylebook to minimize uses of their opponent's nickname. The Puget Sound culture is clearly prepared for this.

    Those are just a few suggestions. I have more ideas. If Ewe Dub's upper division political correctness majors need an adviser, I humbly offer my services. As you can plainly see, I know what earns points with people you need to impress.

    On her Web site, Jill Edwards, one of those senators, tried to explain herself: "I talked more than I ever have before and realized exactly why I never talk. I am thouroughly (sic) regretting opeining (sic) my mouth."

    Well said. You shouldn't let English or history distract you from your education.

    Seattle Once Knew How to Respect Heroes

    I have required reading assignments for Ashley Miller and Jill Edwards.

    The books are titled The Black Sheep and Black Sheep One, both written by Bruce Gamble. They contain a wealth of information about the life and military career of Colonel Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, USMC.

    In The Black Sheep, there is a picture of a large crowd gathered outside the old Metropolitan Theater on University Street, between 4th and 5th Avenues in Seattle. Banners can be seen that read "Welcome Home, Pappy!" and "Welcome Home, Pappy Boyington!". The caption reads:
    Boyington's first stop on the War Bond tour was a three day visit to Seattle beginning September 17, 1945. A crowd estimated at 5,000 gathered for this downtown rally.
    Further details of this trip are found later in the book:
    Near the Seattle garage where he had parked cars three years earlier, an enormous crowd gathered to see him paraded through the city. Bands played, dignitaries crowed, huge banners proclaimed "Welcome Home, Pappy". The nickname was catching on.

    From there it was on to Okanogan, where a writer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer boasted that all 24,000 inhabitants of the town turned out for the largest parade in the county's history.
    In Black Sheep One, Gamble describes the jubilant ticker tape parade Pappy received as he was driven through the streets of downtown Seattle after landing at Boeing Field, accompanied by Mayor William Devin and Washington Governor Mon Wallgren. Both politicians were anxious to heap accolades on "Washington's most famous war hero". As Gamble puts it, Boyington "had Seattle eating from the palm of his hand".

    Certainly someone is still alive in Seattle that remembers those events of 60 years ago. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to have those memories passed on to Ms. Miller and Ms. Edwards.

    Cross-posted @ Respectfully Republican

    Saturday, February 25, 2006

    "Door opens for Wal-Mart in Pullman"

    From today's Lewiston Tribune:

    Retailer now may apply for building permit; decision subject to mitigating traffic conditions, presence of graves

    Barring a court appeal within 21 days, the door appears to have been thrown back open I don't ever recall the door being shut for Wal-Mart to build a 223,000-square-foot super center here on 28 acres adjacent to Bishop Boulevard.

    Hearing Examiner John Montgomery of Spokane made his decision known late Friday afternoon to uphold the City of Pullman's site plan and determination of non-significance regarding Wal-Mart's application to build.

    Montgomery's decision is subject to some mitigating traffic conditions and possible suspension of construction if human graves are found on the site. The property abuts the Pullman Cemetery on the south side.

    Pullman City Attorney Laura McAloon told the Lewiston Tribune that the decision basically affirms the city's handling of the Wal-Mart application and that the world's largest retailer may now apply for a building permit.

    "The only way they (opponents) could stop them from going toward construction is if they went to court and applied for an injunction," McAloon said, adding that the city intends to work with Wal-Mart to meet all conditions Montgomery has ordered.

    T.V. Reed, spokesman for the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development (PARD), said he had just received word of the decision and members of the grassroots make that union puppet group will have to review it in detail before settling on a course of action, if any.

    Reed said he was heartened by Montgomery's decision to address better traffic signals at intersections along Bishop Boulevard. Better traffic signals? What the hell is he talking about?

    "Safety for the public has always been our concern," Reed said. Yeah, right. Judging from the letters to the editor lately, I thought independent economic impact studies had always been their concern. In a disaster like this for PARD, they have to find some shred of respect from the ruling I suppose

    Seattle attorney John C. McCullough, who represented Wal-Mart during public hearings on PARD's appeal, could not be reached for comment. Likewise, Spokane attorney Brian T. McGinn, who represents PARD, could not be reached for comment. Oh but don't bother trying to contact any Pullman Wal-Mart supporters for comment.

    A message on PARD's Web site announced that a decision had been made, but said comment wouldn't be available until a later time.

    The development comes while officials across the border in Moscow are dealing with Wal-Mart's announced intentions to build an additional super center of similar size there. Moscow currently has a Wal-Mart store on the west end of town.

    After hearing some four hours of testimony, mostly from people opposed to a Wal-Mart Supercenter, the Moscow Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to deliberate March 8 and possibly make a pivotal zoning decision.

    The Gene Thompson family has applied to have 77 acres of farm land re-zoned to motor business, which could open the door to the super center and possibly other big box stores.

    Unlike Moscow, which has a big-box store ordinance that could constrain Wal-Mart construction plans, Pullman has no such legal tool. McCullough, however, has said Wal-Mart officials intend to work with the community and want to become a good neighbor. Why have four paragraphs about Moscow in a story about the Pullman Wal-Mart? Hasn't the Moscow Supercenter brouhaha had enough coverage of its own?

    Opponents in both towns have said that Wal-Mart Supercenters will change the character of their communities and lead to more urban sprawl. Opponents have also contended that super centers will have heavy impacts on downtown business in both communities. Oh yes, make it seem like this decison was rammed down our throats. There's only a couple of dozen diehards left that feel that way. Does he know how much joy there is in Pullman now over this decision?

    "No credible testimony was presented OUCH!! that urban blight would befall the city's downtown area as result of the proposal," Montgomery wrote in his decision about Pullman.

    "Wal-Mart has mitigated impacts of its proposal on the Pullman Cemetery," Montgomery wrote. "In event that human remains are disturbed, the applicant's construction effort will be abated in that area for a governmental determination of a course of action."
    All in all, another frustrating article that does not reflect the whole story.

    Friday, February 24, 2006

    Boy, the Media is Botching The Approval Story

    The S-R: "Conditions laid down include making road improvements, adding traffic lights and creating a buffer between the store and an adjacent cemetery." Uhhh, no. Those conditions were already there before.

    KLEW: "...completion of new traffic signals at the intersection of Bishop Boulevard and Fairmount Drive before the building can be occupied" Wrong. The traffic signals were always in the plan, it's just who pays what percentage for the one light.

    KREM: "Wal-Mart must participate in improving streets in the area." Sigh. See above.

    If this is the kind of face saving coverage PARD needs to declare victory and quit, then fine. Any way you look at it though, this is an utter, complete and devastating defeat for them.

    I think the Church Lady is feeling a Superiority Dance coming on!

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    "Pullman Wal-Mart Supercenter Gets Green Light"

    From KLEW TV in Lewiston:
    The proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman has cleared a major hurdle.

    Late Friday afternoon, Hearing Examiner John Montgomery upheld the City of Pullman's approval of the Wal-Mart Supercenter Site Plan as well as it's Determination of Non-Significance.

    Although subject to conditions, including construction suspension should any graves or human remains be discovered on the site, and completion of new traffic signals at the intersection of Bishop Boulevard and Fairmount Drive before the building can be occupied, the decision clears the way for construction of the Supercenter. The State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and site plan appeals were filed by the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development (PARD).

    On Friday PARD said it was reviewing the details of the decision. PARD said it was immediately clear that the decision "imposes new conditions on Wal-Mart, particularly with regard to traffic safety."

    PARD said that it's efforts "have led to greater public safety for Pullman citizens, one of the chief reasons for the appeal."

    PARD also said it will be studying the decision to determine if there is a need to appeal to Superior Court based on public concerns not sufficiently addressed in the document.
    "Imposes new conditions on Wal-Mart, particularly with regard to traffic safety"? "Led to greater public safety for Pullman citizens, one of the chief reasons for the appeal"? What a crock!!!Here's what the traffic condition is, from the Hearing Examiner's decision:
    The level of participation of 20% by Wal-Mart does is not proportional to the impact to that intersection caused by the proposal. The Public Works Directory (sic) may determine the level of participation of Wal-Mart recognizing that the road system of the City of Pullman, and other property owners, may be potentially benefitted.
    So that's the big "safety improvement". All of PARD's protesting will make Wal-mart pay a few more thousand dollars towards a traffic signal. Whooooppeeee!

    Okay, PARDners, declare your little victory and go home. Any further appeals will be pointless and only cost the city more tax money. It's obvious you neber had a case from the beginning and you never had public support. Stop the insanity and end the embarassment.

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    Hearing Examiner John Montgomery has denied PARD's appeals and ruled that the Wal-Mart Supercenter can proceed with a couple of minor conditions

    More later.

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    Thursday, February 23, 2006

    Dr. Pot and Mr. Kettle

    The path of self-righteous pontification and holier-than-thou witch-hunting is fraught with peril. Around every corner lies another glass house through which a stone may be thrown, thus exposing one's own hypocrisy to the world.

    For example, back in December, Associate Dean of the WSU College of Liberal Arts, T.V. Reed, roundly condemned Wal-Mart for lawsuits that alleged the retailer pressured its employees to work off the clock for no pay.

    Today, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported that the WSU School of Communication, which is part of the College of Liberal Arts, has not been paying graduate teaching assistants for "volunteer" work that they have done. One WSU department chair referred to the practice as "exploitation". That sounds familiar, doesn't it?
    Several graduate students at Washington State University have not been paid for their teaching assistant work. David Cuillier and Yvonnes Chen are Ph.D. students in the School of Communication who have performed what they call “volunteer TA” work above and beyond their regular TA assignments.

    Neither was paid for their labors, Cuillier and Chen said.

    Department of Foreign Languages Chairman Eloy Gonzalez expressed surprise at the existence of unpaid teaching work. “Frankly, to have a student work all semester and not be paid is nothing but exploitation.”

    Gonzalez’ department is not known on campus for having a large budget.

    Graduate students working as TAs are paid about $12,000 per year and receive a tuition waiver as further compensation for their TA assignment, according to figures from the Graduate School.

    Most communication graduate students teach freshman level courses. It is useful to have experience teaching not just at the freshman level, but at the junior and senior level when communication students finish their doctorates and look for work elsewhere, Cuillier and Chen said.

    I taught two 400-level classes last spring for free because they helped me look good on the job market this year,” Cuillier said. “The system takes advantage of you, but you are getting an education at the same time.”

    The volunteer teaching work and associated experience at the upper division level helped Cuillier garner the offer of a tenure-track position at the University of Arizona, where he will start working next school year, he said.

    Cuillier had permission from his program to teach a class at the University of Idaho last spring, in addition to paid teaching at the freshman level — and teaching two senior level courses without pay.

    Chen is a paid TA and a volunteer-TA this semester. In Chen’s case, the volunteer work consists only of assisting a faculty member teaching an upper-division course.

    We do volunteer-TAs for professional classes so you get experience and letters of recommendation for your job search,” Chen said.

    Neither Cuillier nor Chen have complained about the volunteer work, which they regard as beneficial to them and acceptable by the standards of the School of Communication.

    Most communication graduate students are not volunteer teaching, said Alex Tan, director of the School of Communication. “Occasionally, we have TAs teaching, and they don’t get paid,” Tan said Tuesday. “But that’s not the normal procedure … we’ve done it for emergencies … it’s happened maybe two or three times” beyond the cases of Cuillier and Chen.

    “Everything we do here is above board,” Tan said.

    The notion of TAs teaching or helping to teach classes for which they are not paid distresses Howard Grimes, dean of the Graduate School at WSU.

    “The Graduate School will do a full investigation,” Grimes said this week.

    The School of Communication is housed within Liberal Arts. The dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Erich Lear, concurred with the need for an investigation.

    Other directors and chairpersons across WSU expressed surprise Wednesday at the existence of volunteer teaching work on campus. Faculty leaders of the School of Economic Sciences, School of Electrical Engineering, Department of History, Department of Statistics, Department of Chemistry and the General Education Program said they have no graduate students teaching or helping to teach semester-long courses without pay.

    The College of Veterinary Medicine, which works within a complex infrastructure, has a variety of different types of TA and teaching-related work. But all students who teach are compensated through stipends for their work, CVM spokesman Darin Watkins said.

    Keith Blatner, chairman of Natural Resource Sciences, said weekend field trips sometimes create the need for “extra hands” and graduate students are asked to help as informal teaching assistants.

    “But our policy is to pay them time-slip (by the hour) for what they do,” Blatner said.
    Wow, what a radical concept. People taking jobs that pay less than a "living wage", with an employer that "takes advantage of them", without complaint, in order to gain experience and get a better paying job somewhere else. Where's the outrage?

    As Moliere wrote in Le Misanthrope, "One should examine oneself for a very long time before thinking of condemning others."

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    An Open Letter Regarding Col. Gregory Boyington

    Received this e-mail today:
    We are very concerned with the negative generalizations about the University of Washington over the last week relating to the memorial for Col. Gregory Boyington. Due to the failure in the Student Senate of Resolution 12-18, "A Resolution Calling for a Tribute for Col. Gregory 'Pappy' Boyington, USMC," many newspapers, radio talk-shows, and other public discussion forums have portrayed all of the students at the University as being opposed to the construction of this memorial, and have accused us of showing grave disrespect to our nation's veterans.

    Many students do not share the opinion the Senate has expressed by failing this Resolution, and in fact many of us argued vehemently for the approval of this memorial. In the end the decision came down to a single vote and we want to stress that half of the Senators did support the memorial. The comments that were made by a few individual Senators during the meeting do not in any way reflect the opinions of
    us all.

    All people should be respected and recognized for their hard work, their achievements, and the sacrifices they make for others. President John F. Kennedy told us to "ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." Col. Boyington is an excellent example of someone who has done just that, and did everything that his country asked of him, and then more. He is a Marine who went above and beyond the call of duty, and sacrificed everything to defend the
    freedoms and liberties we cherish so fondly and we are proud that he was an alumnus of our University.

    We are just as appalled as many members of the public by the openly racist remark that a student leader made. It is truly sad that four decades after Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about his dream for the future, there are still people who judge whether a person deserves to be commemorated based on his or her race, gender, and sexual orientation. We are truly sorry that such comments and thoughts continue to circulate in our society and that over the last week they have become associated with the University of Washington.

    We have sadly found out last week that there are some student Senators who do not appreciate the immense sacrifices made by all veterans in order to preserve the freedoms that we so easily now take for granted, but many students recognize and deeply appreciate these great sacrifices. We are grateful to all servicemen and women, past and present, who have dedicated their lives to protecting our country and we feel nothing but the deepest respect for them.

    We can only hope that in the future all graduates of our University will be able to live up to the example set such people as Col. Boyington. We are very proud that our University produced one of the finest members of our Armed Forces, and will do everything we can to make sure that in the future UW graduates are associated with people such as Col. Boyington.

    We feel truly sorry and apologize to all veterans and to those currently defending our country for not being able to convince the student Senate to make a decision that would make our University look deserving in the eyes of those who love our country.

    Mikhail Smirnov, ASUW Senator
    Paul Fleurdelys, ASUW Senator
    Gary Stute, ASUW Senator
    Yongwook Choi, ASUW Senator
    Jonathan Evans, ASUW Senator
    Charles Cadwallader, ASUW Senator
    Andrew P. D. G. Everett, ASUW Senator
    Brandon Gregory, ASUW Senator
    Colin A. Thomas, ASUW Senator
    Brandt Hofstetter, ASUW Senator
    Sarah E. Cunningham, ASUW Member
    Dan Lowry, ASUW Member
    Nathan D. Badle, ASUW Member
    Good for them. The UW College Republicans need to stage a campus takeover like they did back in the early 80s.

    PARD's Cost To Pullman So Far

    Since PARD filed its Site Plan appeal last October, Pullman has lost $277,660.96 in sales and property tax revenues.


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    Wednesday, February 22, 2006

    "It's Wal-Mart's business, not the Legislature's"

    Bruce Ramsey knocks one out of the park today in his editorial column in the Seattle Times. He unabashedly and unflinchingly takes on the unions and their running lapdogs in the fight against Wal-Mart, the Democrats and the snobbish Leftist elites:
    Wal-Mart has been shifting its health-care costs to taxpayers, said state Rep. Steve Conway, D-Tacoma. "I think taxpayers should be outraged."

    "It's corporate welfare," said state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle.

    That's one way to look at it. Here's another. Conway, who is secretary-treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 81, which does not represent any workers at Wal-Mart, and Kohl-Welles, who lectures in sociology and women's studies at the University of Washington, propose to cancel the employee-benefits policy of Wal-Mart Inc. and substitute their own.

    Their bill was blocked, but we have not heard the last of it. It demanded that any for-profit company of at least 5,000 employees spend at least 9 percent of full-time payroll on medical benefits, not including benefits deducted from employee pay. Several companies might be affected, but only Wal-Mart has been identified. Everyone calls it "the Wal-Mart bill."

    A similar bill was passed in Maryland that affected only Wal-Mart. Imagine the Legislature imposing a special labor law on one company. And in Washington, a special law is unconstitutional, because laws are supposed to apply to broad classes.

    Imagine a law for one company being passed at the behest of people who don't work there. The bill is a project of the national labor movement, which sees Wal-Mart as a competitive threat to union retailers.

    Wal-Mart also has become an icon of urban sprawl, SUVs, big-box shopping and other stuff that irritates the cultural left. These folks inoculate themselves with anti-Wal-Mart movies and books, none of which reaches the average American, who shops where the shopping is good.

    By the general rules of a commercial republic, what a company pays its workers is not a public question. It is between management and employees. Raising the issue of state medical costs is a way of making it a public question. State health coverage provides a new way of doing this: It made motorcycle helmets a public question. Then cigarettes. Now Wal-Mart.

    Regarding Wal-Mart: In 2004, the state says, 3,180 employees, 22 percent of the total, had at least one family member on Medicaid. The state doesn't say, but most likely it was a child, because Washington is unusually generous with Medicaid for children. Oregon and Idaho are stricter, but Washington enrolls children from families of four with incomes up to $48,000 a year.

    Wal-Mart says its average cash wage here is $10.61, or $22,000 per year for full-time workers — and nearly half the Wal-Mart employees with a family member on Medicaid are part-timers.

    It would be nice to know how many employees had kids on Medicaid before they came to Wal-Mart. If an employee chooses to keep her child on Medicaid, because it's a good deal and the state lets her do it, is that corporate welfare? And if, to some extent, it works that way, perhaps it is the Legislature's fault for being too liberal with the taxpayers' money.

    Wal-Mart offers medical insurance after six months of employment. Some workers haven't been there six months. Insurance is optional, with the premiums deducted from pay. The company says 57 percent of its workers in Washington have signed up for benefits, though some for coverage much leaner than Medicaid's. Another 24 percent have coverage through their spouses,Medicaid or some other way. In total, 81 percent have some medical coverage.

    Costco's pay and benefits are better, which buys it more employee stability. Wal-Mart undertakes to train more entry-level people. Such is competition. People are free to work where they will and shop where they will. Some 17,000 in this state work at Wal-Mart.

    I don't know their business well enough to tell them how to run it. But then, I'm not in the Legislature.
    Isn't it interesting that Conway, the House Labor and Commerce Committee Chairman, is also the secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 81. Can you say "conflict of interest"? Then we have a liberal UW professor of sociology and women's studies as Chairwoman of the Senate Labor, Commerce and Research and Development Committee. Does this unholy alliance of labor and academia sound familiar?

    I like how Ramsey touches on the unconstitutionality of the "Wal-Mart bill", which could cost the state millions to defend in court, just as Maryland is now having to do.

    He skewers the anti-Wal-Mart elitists like the PARDners It's not Wal-Mart that they hate. It's what Wal-Mart represents, and especially the people who shop at Wal-Mart. Not only do they despise ordinary, average Americans, they simply can't understand us. We eat fast food and red meat. We drive gas-guzzling SUVs, minivans and trucks. We own guns. We hunt. We watch NASCAR, wrestling and football on TV. We listen to country music. We wear Dale Earnhardt ball caps. We live in cookie-cutter tract houses in soulless suburbia. We work mundane 9-5 or blue collar jobs. We're more interested in Saturday baseball games than social activism. We like to say the Pledge of Allegiance. We support our troops. We go to church. We pray to God. And we're optimistic about our future and our country. It just drives the Leftists crazy. For example, to an organic vegetarian environmentalist and liberal activist who volunteers at the Moscow Food Co-Op and is committed to "animal welfare" and "supporting environmentally conscious companies", I must seem like Darth Sidious.

    Ramsey makes the connection between the proposed Wal-Mart legislation and other Nanny State measures such as mandatory motorcycle helmet usage, all done in the name of public health costs.

    He accurately points out, as I have, that the state is competing with Wal-Mart for health care and winning. Olympia only has itself to blame for being too generous.

    All in all, this is one of the best columns I have yet read on the opposition to Wal-Mart. And it's in the Seattle Times to boot.

    Note to Joshua Fusselman

    U of I senior Joshua Fusselman should check his facts before submitting any more letters to the editor ranting against urban sprawl like the one that appeared in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

    For example:
    A development just west of the border featuring Lowe’s with total retail space of 600,000 square feet is about to be built. All of the sales tax will go to Pullman.
    Uhhh, what? From your lips to God's ears, Joshua. Unfortunately, we'll never see a dime of that sales tax money in Pullman.
    Another commercial development up to 1.5 million square feet featuring a Wal-Mart Supercenter is planned for the east side of town.
    1.5 million square feet? Really? What else is going in there? No plans have been announced. That's four times larger than the Palouse Mall. Are you sure about that?

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    PARD's Cost To Pullman So Far

    Since PARD filed its Site Plan appeal last October, Pullman has lost $275,663.47 in sales and property tax revenues.


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    Tuesday, February 21, 2006

    Can’t Fight ‘Em All or You Will Lose Focus

    From a story in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
    Residents have concerns about corridor development; environmental questions will be addressed by county

    Stormwater runoff, traffic and water are the primary areas of concern gleaned from 11 public comments on a proposed shopping center development in the Pullman-Moscow Corridor.

    The comments, which had to relate to the State Environmental Policy Actchecklist, must be addressed by Whitman County staff before a final decision is granted on whether to allow the development to progress.

    “The majority of (people who submitted comments) looked at the SEPA checklist and decided the answers were not to their liking for one reason or another,” said Alan Thomson, assistant planner for Whitman County.

    The Hawkins Companies submitted an application in January to build a 714,000-square-foot shopping complex along the highway just west of the Idaho state line. Whitman County Planning Director Mark Bordsen gave preliminary approval to the developer’s SEPA checklist Feb. 1. The approval automatically triggered a 14-day public comment period on the checklist, which ended Feb. 16.

    Bordsen is considering and responding to the comments before issuing a final determination.

    “It takes as long as it takes Mark to do it,” Thomson said. There is no deadline for the final decision.

    The cities of Moscow and Pullman were among those who submitted their concerns about the development’s water supply coming from the same aquifers residents already depend on, as well as the development’s submitted stormwater drainage design. The Hawkins Companies plan to transfer a water right and use wells in the area rather than extending city services.

    The public will have 10 days to appeal once Bordsen issues his decision. If it is not appealed, Hawkins Companies can apply for a conditional-use permit from the county Board of Adjustments. The permitting process will give the public another chance to comment on the development.

    Some of the comments not addressed by the SEPA checklist can be covered by local laws, Thomson said. The zoning code for the north side of the corridor will take care of some of the questions. Requirements for state agencies will cover some water, health and stormwater issues, he said.

    “SEPA is just one tool to protect the environment.”
    This is the largest retail development in the history of the Palouse. It is twice as big as the Palouse Mall, over three times bigger than the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenters. And there are only 11 SEPA comments, two of which are from the cities of Pullman and Moscow and one from Mark Solomon??? THERE WERE 151 SEPA COMMENTS ON THE PROPOSED PULLMAN WAL-MART SUPERCENTER!!! What a shocking display of blatant hypocrisy by our Palouse liberals. These are the people that are supposedly so concerned about "bigness", economic blight, crime, urban sprawl, traffic, noise, air pollution, stormwater runoff, heavy metals, river temperature, aquifer depletion and deer testicles. Where's the outrage??? The lack of SEPA comments on this new development conclusively proves that the opposition to Wal-Mart is strictly elitist, classist, and snobbish in nature, the Cause Du Jour for the selfish intelligentsia.

    My favorite quote on this issue comes from the "No Super Wal-Mart" blog. In a post dated February 7th, the Daily News story about the SEPA approval of the Hawkins Companies development is prefaced with "File this one under the heading: Can’t fight ‘em all or you will lose focus." And yet this development represents a much greater threat to the environment and the economy of Moscow than does a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

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    The Pappy Flap

    As some of you may have heard by now, the ASUW Student Senate recently got in hot water nationally for deciding to reject a proposal for a memorial to UW alum (Class of '34) and Medal of Honor winner Colonel Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, USMC. Boyington was the third highest-scoring Marine Corps ace in WWII, shooting down 22 Japanese planes. He was also a member of the legendary "Flying Tigers" prior to the U.S. entering the war (shooting down 6 Japanese planes, which gave him a total of 28 in WWII). The pilots he commanded in VMF-214, the famous "Black Sheep Squadron", called him "Gramps", since he was ten years older than most of them. The nickname "Pappy" was used in a song by one of Boyington's men and picked up on by the press. Boyington was eventually shot down and captured, spending the last 20 months of the war in a POW camp.

    Pappy, who was born in Coeur d'Alene and spent his early childhood in St. Maries, Idaho, not too far away from Pullman, is best known from the 1976-1978 TV show Baa Baa Black Sheep, in which he was played by Robert "I Dare Ya to Knock the Battery Off My Shoulder" Conrad, who was a Hollywood tough guy in his own right. The show, which was very loosely based on Boyington's 1958 memoir of the same name, portrayed the Black Sheep Squadron as a bunch of misfits and hellraisers, much to the dismay of Boyington's former subordinates. Pappy died of lung cancer in 1988.

    One UW student senator said that since Boyington was a member of the Marine Corps and killed people, he wasn't the "sort of person UW wanted to produce." Another senator argued that there were already enough memorials at UW to "rich white men". Veterans groups, especially former Marines, talk radio hosts, and bloggers across the country have expressed outrage over this decision.

    In full CYA mode now, the UW Foundation has created the Lt. Col. Gregory "Pappy" Boyington Memorial Scholarship Fund to provide scholarships to undergraduate students who are either a U.S Marine Corps veteran or are the child of a U.S Marine Corps veteran.

    I have been asked to provide a WSU perspective on this controversy. First of all, I can't say I am shocked. UW doesn't exactly have a reputation as a bastion of conservatism. Most people east of the mountains view the denizens of Montlake as rich, dope-smoking, dreadlocked, drum-banging brats. There's a Red Square and a statue of Lenin over there for Pete's sake.

    The ASUW Student Senate's actions and words reflect the degree to which blind, ignorant, knee-jerk Political Correctness pervades our institutions of higher learning. Pappy Boyington was no "rich white man". He was part Sioux Indian and far from rich. Boyington came from a blue collar family and helped pay his way through college by working in North Idaho mining and logging camps during summer vacation. After the war, he bounced from one odd job to another and was in constant financial trouble. And as far as being a Marine goes, there is no more honorable and venerated organization in the history of the United States than the United States Marine Corps. The people Pappy killed were members of the armed forces of a totalitarian government that was bent on world domination and that had deliberately launched a preemptive surprise attack on our country. He and millions of others of "The Greatest Generation" are to be praised for answering the call to defend our freedoms.

    But as much as I enjoy any bad press for the Huskies, I can't really say that WSU is any better or that it would never have happened here. In its own right, WSU is a hotbed of Political Correctness Remember, last year, WSU was in the national spotlight for two incidents: the WSU-sponsored heckler's veto of the "Passion of the Musical" and Ed Swan's running afoul of the College of Education's "dispositions" criteria. Another less-publicized incident was the outrage over an alleged "racist" incident on the WSU campus.

    Speaking of Ed Swan, I was pleased to read in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News that the WSU College of Education is removing political and religious beliefs from the evaluation of undergraduate education majors.

    I never find myself agreeing with liberal columnist Nicole Brodeur, but I think she summed things up quite well in today's Seattle Times:
    This kind of political correctness and self-righteousness from a generation that has enjoyed some of our country's most peaceful and prosperous times is truly maddening.

    Boyington was not much older than they when he girded himself into a cockpit and risked his life, eventually becoming one of the war's highest-ranking aces. And in doing what he did, Boyington helped preserve the rights that allowed those in the senate to debate the issue of his worthiness.

    But forgive them. They know not what they have. And yet, our history — and our future — is in their hands.

    On the same day I read about the Boyington debate, I read a Salon.com piece about how newspapers are desperately trying to win younger readers by printing "dumbed down" tabloids filled with less about the war on terrorism and more about the wars backstage at New York's fashion week.

    It is a generation with short attention spans, a flagging interest in the news and an obsession with celebrity and sports.
    Yes, the students are to blame for their intellectual laziness and vain materialism. But in my opinion, the real blame lies with the liberal educational system that has perpetuated this system of Political Correctness. These children of the 80's are merely parroting what they have been told by their teachers, professors, and school books. From rewritten, sanitized and "sensitized" versions of history, to colleges that demand teachers pass ideological litmus tests, to the Marxist-Leninist professors whose ideas of "diversity" are that everything traditionally American is evil and to whom "tolerance" means no conflicting opinions are allowed, our cultural consciousness is being reprogrammed.

    For example, my twelve year old daughter told me tonight that she has been learning about Pearl Harbor. "Oh", I asked, "what did you learn?" She then proceeded to tell me about the internment camps that were set up for Japanese-Americans. She didn't know that Pearl Harbor had been the 9/11 of its time, a devastating sneak attack before war had even been declared.

    It reminded me of what Tom O'Brien wrote in CRISIS Magazine:
    Another problem is closely related: The history now taught in schools is often ideologically motivated revisionism. Signs of this are everywhere, though one example will have to suffice: Recently, during the period marking the dedication of the World War II Memorial on the Mall, the Washington Post did a story on knowledge of the Second World War among Virginia high-schoolers. What did the students know? A little bit about Hitler; a bit on the Holocaust. Nothing on Mussolini. Nothing on Japanese Fascism, or the rape of Nanking, or the victimization of Korea, or the willful destruction of Manila in 1945. But students were well informed about the Nisei—the Japanese Americans interned by Roosevelt at the beginning of World War II.

    Was the Nisei episode an injustice? Of course. Have we acknowledged as much? Yes. Have we compensated the survivors and heirs? Yes. But what scholar would say that this is the main or most important story to come out of World War II? Even the writer for the Washington Post was shocked.
    I commend O'Brien's entire column to you.

    So what would Pappy think about all this?

    In the air, he was a natural-born pilot and leader, able to beat almost anyone in a dogfight.

    On the ground, Boyington was a disaster. He was an alcoholic and a womanizer, prone to fighting, getting in debt, and crossing swords with his superiors.

    Pappy was always quick to admit his flaws The closing line in Baa Baa Black Sheep is: "Just name me a hero and I'll prove he's a bum." He kept his Medal of Honor in his garage. Pappy's probably up there now in the Great Ready Room in the Sky, having a drink and laughing his ass off at all the controversy his memory is causing.

    PARD's Cost To Pullman So Far

    Since PARD filed its Site Plan appeal last October, Pullman has lost $273,665.98 in sales and property tax revenues.


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    "Pay or Play" Legislation: Unions Play, Workers and Taxpayers Pay

    Excellent column from Don Brunell, the president of the Association of Washington Business, on the temporarily defunct "Wal-Mart Bill":
    As our legislature heads toward the home stretch, union leaders are pressing their “pay or play” legislation requiring companies in Washington state with more than 5,000 employees to spend 9 percent of their payroll on employee health care benefits. It is organized labor’s latest salvo at Wal-Mart, a company whose employees have repeatedly rejected joining the union.

    There are two interesting aspects to this effort. First, supporters are using confidential employer information mysteriously “leaked to the press” from state files. Even though the Dept. of Employment Security sent out a letter warning legislators that leaking the confidential information could violate state or federal law and carry a $5,000 penalty, somehow it seeped out.

    Second, employer mandate bills like those being pushed by the AFL-CIO in Washington and 33 other states will do nothing to improve access to affordable health care, will result in job losses, and will cost taxpayers millions in legal fees.

    The Employment Policies Institute, a Washington, D.C. based non-profit research organization, recently released a study showing that, if passed nationwide, employer mandates will cost 315,000 jobs.

    Case in point: In Maryland, lawmakers approved a union-backed measure that requires companies that employ more than 10,000 people to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on health care. Wal-Mart is the only company in the state affected by the legislation.

    The legislation effectively killed Wal-Mart’s plan to open a distribution center in Somerset County that would have employed 800 people. The rural county is Maryland’s poorest, with per capita income less than half the state average. According to The Wall Street Journal, the center’s “ripple effect” would have created an additional 282 jobs, boosting the county’s private-sector employment by 20 percent and producing an additional $19.2 million in state and local tax revenues.

    In addition, Wal-Mart’s plan for a second distribution center in western Maryland also appears dead. That center was planned for Garret County, which has a poverty rate 70 percent above the state average.

    As one Wal-Mart spokesman put it, “You have to…question how business-friendly is a state like Maryland when they pass a bill that…takes a swipe at one company that provides 15,000 jobs.”

    Most of the people in Maryland who supported the measure did so secure in the knowledge that it wouldn’t negatively affect them. More than 150,000 Maryland residents are federal employees and nearly 268,000 work for state and local government.

    Unfamiliar with the need to control costs, remain competitive, or appease shareholders, they apparently neither understand nor appreciate the consequences of increasing costs on private sector companies. And because the 1,000 or more jobs killed by the anti-Wal-Mart law were largely in the poorer sections of the state, those job deaths are causing barely a ripple.

    But those folks may be affected after all by shelling out millions of their tax dollars to defend the law in court.

    The Retail Industry Leaders Association recently filed suit in Baltimore’s federal district court asserting that Maryland’s “pay or play” law violates federal law. The plaintiffs point out that the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) requires that multi-state companies like Wal-Mart pay uniform benefits for all their employees.

    But if the unions get their way, several states will have approved several different requirements. For example, in Maryland, companies with more than 10,000 workers must pay 8 percent on health benefits. In New Hampshire, the threshold is 1,500 employees and requires 10.5 of payroll. Then there is Washington where the legislation targets companies with 5,000 or more employees to spend 9 percent of payroll on employee health care.

    Proposing legislation that is already embroiled in legal battles elsewhere and headed to the U.S. Supreme Court – litigation that would surely follow here – is neither a solution nor a responsible use of Washington taxpayers’ hard earned money.

    Every company in America is struggling to deal with the soaring cost of health care. What is forgotten is that every Wal-Mart associate in America – both full-time and part-time – can become eligible for health coverage for $23 per month, an approach which has helped 160,000 previously uninsured Americans get private insurance.

    That hardly sounds like a recalcitrant employer who should be punished because unions have failed in their organizing efforts. Using poorly aimed legislation to get even makes the situation worse, not better.

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    Monday, February 20, 2006

    PARD's Cost To Pullman So Far

    Since PARD filed its Site Plan appeal last October, Pullman has lost $271,668.49 in sales and property tax revenues.


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    Good News for Pullman Business

    Just as Whitman County is set to vote on raising its sales tax to 7.7%, a full 2.7% higher than Idaho, it looks like the Idaho legislature is going to help us out. From KBCI in Boise:

    BOISE - State legislators pushing for an increase in the sales tax have someone like Valerie Griffith in mind.

    "My property tax goes up every year and my parents' property tax has been going up and they are really concerned about it," Griffith said.

    Her elderly parents live on a fixed income, yet the value of their Meridian home keeps rising. The current bill in the legislature would raise the sales tax one penny per dollar, from five to six percent. Supporters of the increase say it would be to offset an potential decrease in property taxes. Yet Sanjay Moorthy says that isn't fair.

    "From a totally self point of view, I think it's not that great because I don't have any property and I don't like paying extra money," Moorthy said.

    Moorthy rents his place in Boise and believes its a sign of ineffiency that taxes might be raised, and that an increase won't fix anything.

    "If we could solve the problems at the root, instead of trying to solve a symptom, rather than an actual disease," he added.

    The sales tax was at five percent for many years until it was raised to six percent for two years. Then, the legislature decided to push it back to five.

    Last year in letting the sales tax expire, Governor Kempthorne said he was helping Idaho taxpayers but critics said it wouldn't be long before they thought of raising the tax again.

    Valerie Griffith said the tax never should have been rolled back.

    "They repealed that, I don't know if that was the right thing to do, or if they should have just left it to where anyone moving into Idaho, whether they own property or not, is sharing in the tax burden," Griffith said.

    Christine Hanzlik says she wasn't bothered by the tax when it was six cents.

    "I bought a computer, a car and things like that. If things need to be bought, they're going to be bought," Hanzlik said.

    The House is expected to vote on the bill in the next several weeks.
    You had to see this coming. Lowering a tax is like trying to cut out a root wrapped around a septic tank line. Even if you succeed, chances are it will be a big mess.

    Meanwhile, a nice fat one percent sales tax increase, combined with the "Great Leap Backward" plan being adopted by the Presidium of the Moscow Supreme Soviet, will help level the economic playing field on the Palouse.

    Sunday, February 19, 2006

    PARD's Cost To Pullman So Far

    Since PARD filed its Site Plan appeal last October, Pullman has lost $269,671.00 in sales and property tax revenues.


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    Saturday, February 18, 2006

    "Wal-Mart's not the real culprit"

    And yet another great column on the "Wal-Mart Bill", this time from guest commentator Michael Costello in today's Lewiston Tribune:
    "If we didn't get it this year, we're going to get it next year." Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire promised an assemblage of union goons Thursday. What she wants, but couldn't deliver this year, and threatens to inflict next year, is the seductively titled Fair Share Health Care.

    Fair Share Health Care was a law that would have forced large employers (read Wal-Mart) to impose health insurance upon their employees who currently choose not to buy it.

    The law would have required employers with more than 5,000 employees to spend 9 percent of their payroll on health insurance. Wal-Mart currently employs 16,000 Washingtonians, and 3000 of that number availed themselves of the state's Medicaid program in 2003, costing the taxpayers about $12 million. So it's being peddled as fiscal responsibility for taxpayers.

    But before we go further, let's get one thing straight. Regardless of what union goons or their Olympian puppets might say, it is not the Wal-Mart corporation that declines to provide its employees with health insurance. It's you and me.

    Wal-Mart bears no more responsibility for that condition than Exxon or Shell deserves blame for all of the pump jockeys who lost their jobs when most gas stations went to self-service in the 1970s. We, the consumers, made that decision when we decided that the pump jockey's job was not as important to us as saving a few cents per gallon on gas.

    I know. I was trying to put myself through college working at a gas station. Once self-service pumps were offered, my job and the jobs of my coworkers were doomed. The same goes for big-box retail. Given a choice between the lowest prices and the supposed moral high ground of buying from a retailer that charges more, but includes health insurance as part of its compensation package, we will choose the lower priced retailer.

    Wal-Mart's success is that it sells for less. If forced to raise prices, it will be made vulnerable to the same market forces that spelled the doom of Montgomery Wards and others who were displaced by Wal-Mart.

    And you can forgive Wal-Mart if it doesn't wish to suffer the same fate that now hangs over the heads of General Motors and Ford. Both of these big automakers are facing bankruptcy in large part due to the generous health insurance packages forced upon them by unions.

    And incidentally, big labor has embraced the practice of hiring non-union labor to perform dirty jobs its members find beneath their dignity.

    Last summer, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union hired non-union help to picket a Wal-Mart in the Las Vegas area for only $6 per hour. The picketers were recruited from the ranks of the unemployed, bussed to the Wal-Mart, handed signs and pushed out into triple-digit heat.

    Real union members and real Wal-Mart employees on whose behalf this was supposedly done did not think the effort was worth the discomfort. And of course, these picketers received no health insurance or other benefits from the union.

    The carpenters' union uses the same tactic. It hires the homeless to picket non-union construction sites.

    "We're giving jobs to people who didn't have jobs, people who in some cases couldn't secure work," was the excuse proffered by George Eisner, the head of the mid- Atlantic regional council of the carpenters' union.

    Why can't Wal-Mart use that excuse? They're giving jobs to uneducated and unskilled people who otherwise couldn't get them. And, unlike their union mercenary picketer counterparts, Wal-Mart employees are offered health insurance subsidies. But they are optional. To get health insurance, individual Wal-Mart workers only have to pay $17.50 from their biweekly paycheck. Purchasing for a family only costs $70.50. The company kicks in the rest, which is considerable. If most Wal-Mart employees choose not to take advantage of this, that's their decision. The unions don't believe in this sort of freedom.

    And if, as the union goons and their puppets maintain, these employees end up costing the state's Medicaid program, it would seem that the voluntarily uninsured employees should be held accountable for their irresponsibility. Maybe they should be required to shoulder more of the expense, and the taxpayer less, so that Wal-Mart's offer seems a better deal.

    But it is more in the nature of union puppets to blame evil big business than to hold individuals accountable for their own irresponsibility.
    Of course our unelected governor is pandering to the unions. What choice does she have? Entering the second year of her reign, Queen Christine has a 54% disapproval rating, almost as bad as President Bush's in this deeply Blue State. A similar percentage of the public, 55%, thinks Washington is headed in the wrong direction. Even worse for Chris, she loses to Dino Rossi in 2008 by twenty points. Her only prayer politically is to makes as many concessions as she can to big labor and hope for more dead/double/felon voters in King County.

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    "Rep. Chopp right to kill insurance measure"

    Bravo to Steve McClure for his op-ed piece on the Washington "Wal-Mart Bill" in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News.
    Health insurance is not an issue or an expense that rests solely on the shoulders of the nation’s largest retailer.

    Despite intense pressure from labor unions, the Washington Legislature’s speaker of the house recognized that fact and effectively killed a bill that was aimed squarely at Wal-Mart.

    Democrat Frank Chopp instead is pushing for a study that looks at the overarching issue of health insurance and exposes more employer data to public scrutiny.

    If the overriding issue is the corporate benefits packages offered to Washington residents, legislation can’t be aimed at a single company.

    For all the smiley faces that appear in its advertising campaigns, Wal-Mart has become something of a lightning rod in terms of health insurance for employees. The company’s hard-line against labor unions has made it a target for organized labor — the driving force behind the bill Chopp killed last week.

    Unions lobbied furiously for the measure, which would have required companies with 5,000 workers to devote 9 percent of their payrolls to health benefits. Those not meeting the standard would have to pay into taxpayer-funded health programs.

    It was similar to measures being pushed in more than 30 states by organized labor, and the key target has been Wal-Mart.

    But the issue of health insurance is not limited to Wal-Mart, a fact reinforced last week in Olympia when it was revealed that, numerically, the state has about the same number of employees hitting up the state for taxpayer-supported health insurance.

    Regardless of what you think of Wal-Mart, this issue goes beyond a single company.

    Corporations, like the state, are constantly dealing with the rising cost of health insurance.

    Lawmakers need to address the corporate world as a whole if they believe health insurance benefits offered by private industry aren’t adequate, or that poor benefits and pay push people onto the state-funded programs at an undue expense to taxpayers.

    If the issue is worth debating when the target is a convenient one, then it’s worth debate when other industries are involved.
    With all the hot air blowing around the Palouse these days about Wal-Mart, Steve's column is a welcome breath of rational fresh air.

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    PARD's Cost To Pullman So Far

    Since PARD filed its Site Plan appeal last October, Pullman has lost $267,673.51 in sales and property tax revenues.


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    Friday, February 17, 2006

    H2O is it RECYCLED?? --- YES

    For those of you who are reading from Rio-Linda that is WATER. Since we all are tied to this ball we call earth and there is no escaping before the Lord gives that last breath. Just like us all the water that we have is all we will be getting. So as the old adage is 'What goes around, comes around' so water makes it's rounds, all in the good timing of the Lord.

    Now here in Pullman and across the state and also over in Idaho we have the same problem. The highway department use of salt & salt brine anti-icing agents has me VERY concerned. Here are some quotes from DOT's web page:

    What about the impacts on the environment?

    Our past monitoring of streams, rivers, groundwater, and ponds has shown very low levels of chlorides from our routine roadway applications of salt or other chemicals. Levels found have been well below applicable standards or guidelines. We continue to monitor these applications to determine what, if any, impact they may have on the environment.

    Isn't salt corrosive to vehicles?

    Yes. All ice-inhibiting products – salt and chemical anti-icers alike – have some corrosive properties. The question boils down to, “Is the extra cost of the anti-icers worth paying if they still cause corrosion?”

    To read more on this go to
    Wash. DOT here
    , that is where the above quotes came from. More reading also HERE.

    Now to bring this dog home from the 'hunt' we need PARD on this problem. Oh yes, they only worry about the here and now and not the long view of things. The chlorides and salts can not be good for our ground water. Yes the dust is cut down and all BUT we need to drink clean water in the future and not worry about dust so much. Dust is part of life and it is natural and anti-icing agents are NOT.

    Now lets close with this; as stated in the above quote "All ice-inhibiting products – salt and chemical anti-icers alike – have some corrosive properties.". I don't know about you, but I can't afford to buy new car every other year or so. Have any of you been in Chicago the roads are GREAT BUT take a look at there cars and there is not one '90's car that doesn't have body cancer. I doubt that you will see any 1970's or 1980's cars in the area. Oh there I going thinking again the unions have control of the state and local governments and they want to sell LOTS of cars so the UAW's can stay working, more union ties....

    What say you? should we STOP using anti-icing agents, I think so. Than can the "slime" and lets use good old sand and gravel. Get the street sweepers out when it is raining or melting and get it swept up ASAP.

    PARD's Cost To Pullman So Far

    Since PARD filed its Site Plan appeal last October, Pullman has lost $265,676.02 in sales and property tax revenues.


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    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    Hail To The Chief

    Scotty and I had the distinct pleasure of Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson's company today on The PES.

    As a Pullman resident, I consider myself very lucky to have Glenn as mayor. His love of this city is obvious and contagious. Most people probably don't know how he often donates his salary as mayor back to the city, such as purchasing a bike for the police department.

    He is completely in support of expanding our retail tax base, laying out the case in detail this morning. Pullman only gets about 26% of its revenue from sales taxes. Other cities in Washington are in the fortieth percentile. Also, 55 cents of every dollar spent by the city of Pullman is spent on police and fire services, the basic function of any local government. That doesn't leave a lot for extras.

    In addition to being mayor of Pullman, most of you know that Glenn has been the "Voice of the Cougs" during football and basketball season for 26 years now. He shared some great sports stories. I didn't get a chance to share with him my favorite Glenn Johnson story.

    He mentioned how he got a chance to travel with the football team to Notre Dame and Arizona a few years back. Well, my wife attended grad school at the University of Arizona in Tucson from 2000-2002 while I stayed here in Pullman and visited once a month or so. That's why on September 29, 2001, I happened to be at Arizona Stadium watching the Cougs play the Wildcats. We were sitting in a surprisingly packed-out visitor's section. Sitting a few rows behind us was Glenn Johnson. Away from the microphone and thus relieved of PAC-10 regulations, Glenn would lustily yell out the forbidden "AND THAT'S ANOTHER...COUGAR.....FIRST DOWN!!!!" to the delight of the assembled fans. The Cougs romped over the 'Cats 48-21 that night on their way to a 10-2 record and a Sun Bowl victory. Next to the 1998 Rose Bowl and the 2002 USC game, that is my favorite Coug moment.

    Mayor Johnson did not mention his plans for 2007, but if he runs for reelection, I'll be the first guy in line to help with his campaign.