Wal-Mart study appears to be flawedThat's right, just let your fingers do the walking and you too can be an economist. Forget about original time series data from the Washington Department of Revenue. You can find it in the Yellow Pages. But what Hosick fails to realize is that by claiming that Johnson Gardner's numbers are overblown, she is making the case that for all the spending by Pullman residents and students, there are EVEN FEWER places for them to shop in town. That means the sales leakage problem is even worse than Johnson Gardner estimated. OOOPS!! That's not exactly what PARD wants to argue.
After reading the Johnson/Gardner economic and fiscal impact “study,” I would like to point out a couple of discrepancies that are significant enough to render its reliability questionable.
First, on pages 7 and 10 are references to Washington State University’s “quarterly academic sessions/enrollment.” Shouldn’t a real study know that WSU is on a semester system? That’s pretty basic information about this town.
Second, Figure 3 gives counts of various businesses in Pullman. I compared the Johnson/Gardner numbers with a quick count from our local phone book. Even considering both their figures and mine as estimates, more than half of the obvious categories differ startlingly:
* Furniture and home furnishings: J/G: 28, phone book: 6
* Electronic and appliance stores: J/G: 94, phone book: 7
* Building material, garden equipment and supplies: J/G: 30, phone book: 6
* Health and personal care: J/G: 40, phone book: 26
* Sporting goods, hobby, book and music: J/G: 52, phone book: 10
* General merchandise: J/G: 7, phone book: 3
* Food services and drinking places: J/G: 58, phone book: 38
I don’t pretend to have any expertise in this field. However, if such easy information as the above counts and the WSU academic schedule are so off-base, one might be inclined to question Johnson/Gardner’s interpretations in the rest of the report.
Last, in continuing to lobby for an independent fiscal/economic impact study, I would offer the following dictionary definition of “independent”: not influenced or controlled by others in matter of opinion, or subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction. If Pullman’s hearing examiner were to recommend that Wal-Mart be required to pay for a full study, I would strongly support a choice of company for the study by Montgomery himself – a company completely unaffiliated with either Wal-Mart or the city of Pullman. That would be a true independent study.
Cynthia Hosick, Pullman
The bottom line in this silly game is that PARD nagged Wal-Mart to pay for an independent economic impact study for months, and that's exactly what they got. But since the study found that Wal-Mart would be good for Pullman, PARD has no choice but to either discredit the study ad nauseam or immediately drop their appeals. It has to be the former, as you can't just quit after all those weekly meetings, all those press conferences and releases, all those letters to the editor, all those appeal hearings, all those movie screenings, etc, etc. It's a full-fledged, four-alarm fight to the finish now.
Meanwhile, PARD's casting of aspersions on Johnson Gardner's objectivity and performance are unethical and probably illegal.
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