Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Jerome's a Brown Now

Record-breaking Coug running back Jerome Harrison has just been drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 5th round.

Jerome will join former Duck Reuben Droughns and Lee Suggs, a former Virginia Tech standout from my hometown, in the Cleveland backfield. Harrison may immediately challenge Suggs and William Green for a spot as the #2 back.

Good luck in the NFL Jerome!

Friday, April 28, 2006

May Day or Mayday?

From Wikipedia:
May Day is a name for various holidays celebrated on May 1 (or in the beginning of May). The most famous of these is International Workers' Day, which is the commemoration of the Haymarket Riot of 1886 in Chicago, Illinois and a celebration of the social and economic achievements of the international labor movement.

The 1 May date is used because in 1884 the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, inspired by labor's 1872 success in Canada, demanded an eight-hour workday in the United States to come in effect as of May 1, 1886. This resulted in a general strike and the riot in Chicago of 1886, but eventually also in the official sanction of the eight-hour workday.

May Day has long been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist, and anarchist groups. In some circles, bonfires are lit in commemoration of the Haymarket Riot usually right as the first day of May begins. In the 20th century, May Day received the official endorsement of the Soviet Union; celebrations in communist countries during the Cold War era often consisted of large military parades and shows of common people in support of the government (ed. particularly at Red Square in Moscow).
From Wikipedia:
Mayday is an emergency code word used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure communications, derived from the French m'aider. It is used to signal a life-threatening emergency by many groups, such as police forces, pilots, the fire brigade, and transportation organizations. The call given three times (mayday, mayday, mayday...) in a row indicates significant danger (for example, a threat to life).
Monday night, May 1, the Moscow City Council will vote on the request by CLC Associates to rezone the 77 acre Thompson annexation from agricultural/forestry to motor business. This rezone, while theoretically having nothing to do with Wal-Mart, is a necessary step in CLC's plans to develop a Moscow Supercenter. The Moscow Planning & Zoning Commission has already voted against it. The rezone request is also being actively opposed by the No SuperWalMart group (and various Pullman sympathizers)

This vote being held in Moscow on May 1, given the ideological makeup of the current city council, seems too ironic to be true. The citizens of Moscow will have to judge whether May 1, 2006 was May Day or a Mayday.

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"Wal-Mart challenge set for June 22 in Pullman"

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:

Opponents appeal city, hearing examiner’s decisions

The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development will challenge Wal-Mart in court at 9 a.m. June 22.

Judge David Frazier signed an order Thursday setting the date to hear PARD’s appeal. The appeal challenges the city of Pullman and Hearing Examiner John Montgomery’s decisions approving Wal-Mart’s site plan and environmental checklist.

Montgomery presided over the first round of appeals in January. PARD members, local residents and business owners testified for three days about the pros and cons of bringing a Wal-Mart Supercenter to Pullman. Montgomery decided in February the store could proceed, with the condition the retailer builds a traffic signal at the intersection of Southeast Bishop Boulevard and Harvest Drive.

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.

Members of PARD 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 the State Environmental Policy Act.

Others in the community welcome a Wal-Mart store and believe it will be good for Pullman businesses. Pro-growth group Businesses and Residents for Economic Opportunity formed in October to provide residents an outlet to express their support for Wal-Mart.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Property Fairness Initiative

On The PES today, we had FOURTH year vet student Brandy Fay, chairperson of the WSU Collegiate Farm Bureau, on to speak about the Property Fairness Initiative (I-933). This initiative, field by the Washington State Farm Bureau, would require state and local government to compensate landowners when regulations "damage the use or value" of private property.

Brandy did a great job answering our questions and explaining the initiative! A recording will be available on The PES website, but Scotty tells me about half of Brandy's interview didn't get recorded. That's too bad.

I am a 100% in favor of this initiative. It's about time in my opinion. Many of you have heard of outrages like King County's Critical Areas Ordinances (CAO) that requires some property owners to leave 65% of their property in native vegetation (i.e. bushes and weeds), and to have "impervious surfaces" on no more than 10%. Impervious surfaces, in King County, include dirt and gravel roads!

Nothing is more important than our property rights. The legislators in Olympia have dropped the ball, so the citizens have to take action.

Another reason to love this initiative is that is driving the radical environmentalists, labor unions, and the liberals absolutely nuts. They know it has a good chance of passing if it gets on the ballot and the property rights Measure 37 in Oregon recently withstood a court challenge. The misnamed "Community Protection Coalition" states on their website that I-993 will:
Create loopholes for irresponsible development (and more traffic!) that will harm our quality of life now and for future generations
Boy, does that sound familiar.

Permanent Defense, a left wing organization that opposes citizen initiatives, even has a website where people can report "right wing petition signature gathering activity." How Orwellian. Nothing like having your neighbors report "non-correct" thinking. What are they going to do anyway? Have the KGB or Stasi come by and spirit off the petition signature gatherers?

The Farm Bureau needs to gather 300,000 signatures before July 7 to get on the ballot this fall. They got a late start, so they have a lot of ground to make up.

How can you help? You can sign the petition or volunteer to collect petition signatures here in Pullman or Whitman County by contacting Brandy at wsucfb@yahoo.com. I understand there is a copy of the petition at Cougar Country Drive-In. You can also donate money to the campaign at the Property Fairness Initiative website

Salute to Scotty

Palousitics contributor and The PES co-host Scotty had a great letter published in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News. We are blessed to have a professional group of firefighters protecting us here in Pullman. Support them all you can.
A rewarding community service

I have been a Pullman fire reservist since 1999. It has been a great experience to serve the greater Pullman community. I have participated in community service events and helped people in their time of need. It is one of the greatest jobs anyone can have.

I have a hard time calling it a job. It is more of a passion – a labor of love. I work full-time as a computer programmer and fulfill my duties of being a reserve firefighter in the evenings.

The Web site – www.pullman-wa.gov/FireReserves – has more information about being a reserve firefighter. It also has a large number of photos from training classes held during the recruit academy.

I am writing this letter because the Pullman Fire Department is accepting applications until Monday for being a reserve firefighter. To anyone looking for a way to help his community, I strongly suggest checking into the Pullman Fire Reserves.

Scotty Anderson, Colfax
You can read about some of the fun the PFD has planned for the next few days here.

I would also like to personally acknowledge Scotty's generous contribution towards my trip to the Wal-Mart Media Conference. Thanks, my friend!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

“Is Wal-Mart really the devil with the blue vest on?”

Tom Henderson, liberal gadfly and Lewiston Tribune columnist, must have drank the whole pitcher of Kool-Aid before penning the puerile drivel that appeared in today’s edition:
"The Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I saw four horsemen and they said, as with a voice of thunder, 'Welcome to Wal-Mart.'"

What is it with liberals, Wal-Mart, and Biblical analogies?

Wal-Mart may not be a sign of the Apocalypse, but you couldn't tell that from the wailing and gnashing of teeth in Moscow and Pullman. Death, famine, pestilence and war would receive warmer welcomes than the proposed supercenters.

Well, if Wal-Mart is the Antichrist, I wonder if Henderson has noticed there are a lot of Satanists on the Palouse? Look at the all the letters to the editor from Moscow residents in support of a Supercenter there in the last few weeks. Pullman and Moscow are both university towns with the usual liberal professors and students. What part of “vocal minority” does Henderson not understand? What he should be commenting on is how warm of a welcome the proposed Supercenters have received in what should be hostile territory.

The lamentations can be heard far beyond the Palouse. Few things polarize Americans like politics, religion and Wal-Mart.

More accurately, few things drive the local leftist fringe crazier than President Bush, Christ Church, and growth and development.

Political activists are spending millions on polling, micro-targeted ads, e-mail, direct mail and grassroots organizing designed to build Wal-Mart up or tear it down.

Henderson conveniently ignores the fact that these “activists” tearing down Wal-Mart work for labor unions seeking to revive their failing movement by unionizing Wal-Mart and its 1.3 million employees. It’s money, not ideology, which motivates this fight.

"Our opponents have organized the likes of a political campaign against us," says Bob McAdam, vice president of corporate affairs for Wal-Mart. "It would be nonsense for us not to response in a similar fashion."

Well, that's one strategy.

Wal-Mart is right to defend itself. The management has a responsibility to stockholders to do so (Wal-Mart is the fourth most widely-held stock in the world. Many people’s retirement income is tied to Wal-Mart, a fact often overlooked in the Wal-Mart debate).

Another might be to admit Wal-Mart is not the Mary Poppins of corporations and take steps to improve its behavior. Even the most passionate defenders of Wal-Mart and free enterprise must realize that smiley face has a dark side.

“Improve its behavior?” What about all the money Wal-Mart donates to charity? What about its response to Hurricane Katrina? It would be hard to find a better corporate citizen than Wal-Mart. In any case though, doing business in a capitalist society is not like a Disney movie. There are winners and losers and very often no happy endings. If Mr. Henderson naively chooses to believe that Wal-Mart has a “dark side” because they are successful, so be it. But “evil” companies don’t survive very long (look at Enron). Wal-Mart has adapted to the demands of its customers and the free market and must continue to do so to survive.

Wal-Mart sells cheap merchandise made by underpaid workers.

That's a sweeping and silly generalization. Many of the items sold at Wal-Mart are the same name-brand items sold in more expensive stores. And “cheap” and “underpriced” by whose standards? Find me ONE store on the Palouse that doesn’t have SOMETHING made overseas.

In China's Guangdong Province, workers make toys for Wal-Mart for wages averaging 16.5 cents per hour. Wal-Mart certainly isn't the only company to take advantage of cheap labor, but it's one of the biggest.

This is always the liberals’ uneducated and hysterical mantra about globalism. Did Mr. Henderson consider what that worker in Guangdong Province might have been doing prior to working in the factory? How about walking behind a water buffalo holding a plow for much less than 16.5 cents per hour? Is Mr. Henderson aware that the percentage of workers in China making less than a dollar a day between 1981 and 2001 dropped from 79% to 27%? Perhaps he should keep his opinions to himself until he is better informed.

If Wal-Mart were a country, it would rank as China's eighth largest trading partner -- ahead of Russia, Australia and Canada.

Only a liberal could bemoan the fact that an American company is more successful than Russia.

Chinese workers get no health insurance. American workers fare a little better. Bowing to pressure, Wal-Mart execs recently announced they will force part-time employees to wait only one year before being eligible for health insurance instead of two.

That’s ridiculous. The Chinese government mandates that state-owned enterprises with more than 100 employees provide full health insurance benefits to workers. Most large enterprises with over 1000 workers have their own hospitals and smaller enterprises have free outpatient clinics. The biggest problem with health care in China is that free market reforms have not been applied there as they have been elsewhere. And “forcing part-time employees to wait a year for health insurance?” Again I ask, how many part-time employees of any business in Pullman, Moscow, Lewiston, or Clarkston get benefits, including those who work at WSU?

As it is, health insurance is optional for employees. Getting health insurance means getting less of an already slim paycheck.

What an absurd statement. Thank God health insurance is optional. The alternative is France; with high unemployment, a poor economy, and rioters burning cars in the streets. And yes, paying for insurance means it will take a bite out of your paycheck. If you get something for nothing, nothing is about all you will get in return. Has Henderson ever been out in the real working world? These are the kinds of decisions families make every day. Wal-Mart’s low prices help ease that burden a bit.

Wal-Mart is hardly the devil with the blue vest on.

Only rational thing Henderson says in the whole column.

Americans spend $35 million at Wal-Mart every hour. We're the ones who prefer low prices to corporate ethics. We're the ones who helped force 888 other grocery stores into bankruptcy between 1990 and 2000.

Yes, Americans choose low prices. Only liberal elitists have the luxury to shop according to their political ideology. I’m glad Henderson acknowledges that it was consumers that shut down those grocery stores. Wal-Mart has never “forced” a single business to close.

Wal-Mart is obviously not going to change its ways. It's up to us to change Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart will change its ways as they see fit, and they are, but not because a handful of union activists or leftists tell them to do so. Only the customers can do that.

The fault, to paraphrase Shakespeare, is not in stores, but in ourselves.

If your delicate conscience prevents you from shopping at Wal-Mart, then don’t do it. Just don’t try to stop the rest of us. Don’t forget about those favorite iberal buzzwords “tolerance” and “diversity.”
When will we have a column in any local newspaper that takes a straight up or down look at the LOCAL benefits or harm a Wal-Mart Supercenter would have for Pullman and Moscow, without getting into China, sweatshops, globalism, or how big the company is?

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BREAKING NEWS: Wal-Mart Appeal Hearing Date Set

As reported on NewsTalk! 1150 KQQQ this morning, the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development's appeal of the Hearing Examiner's decision concerning the Wal-Mart Supercenter will be heard by the Whitman County Superior Court on Thursday, June 22.

It had been erroneously reported by the media previously that the appeal hearing would be this Friday, April 28. That was only a preliminary hearing to set the final date. The preliminary hearing has now been cancelled because the city and PARD have agreed on the date.

As frustrating as it is for the Wal-Mart controversy to drag on for another two months, take comfort in the fact that PARD's union-funded attorneys had been pressing for a September hearing date, no doubt hoping to miss this year's building season.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

How Low Can You Go?

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is the backer of Wal-Mart Watch, representatives of which were on hand at the Wal-Mart Media Conference last week. At their little "media event," held in conjunction with the United Food & Commercial Worker union, a "civil rights leader" said that Wal-Mart's new health care initiatives is like the difference between "being lynched from a 7-foot tree and an 8-foot tree: you're just as dead." Curiously, the Mainstream Media left that quote out in their coverage of the event.

The SEIU doesn't confine its moonbattery to Wal-Mart, however. In an AP story today, it was reported that a Florida judge ordered an end to mass SEIU protests at the University of Miami in an effort to organize janitors and other service workers at the school. The judge ruled that the university had private property rights not to have classes and other functions disrupted.

An SEIU website is devoted to the University of Miami "struggle." You can even download melodramatic podcasts of the janitors and SEIU executives who are on a "hunger strike." So on one hand, the union complains about the health care of Wal-Mart workers and on the other endangers the health of janitorial workers for the sake of a publicity stunt.

That still doesn't surpass the SEIU/Wal-Mart Watch's antics last December of having union protesters enter a Wal-Mart in Florida dressed as Santa and his elves handing out empty packages to kids and anti-Wal-Mart leaflets (e.g. "All Mommy Wants for Christmas is Health Care"). After some shoving with Wal-Mart associates ensued, the police arrested a couple of the union protesters, both of whom were black. The unions predictably then played the race card and said they had been "profiled." An internal Wake Up Wal-Mart PowerPoint presentation proved that the group was deliberately trying to force a confrontation and figured Santa wouldn't get arrested, but if he did, to make sure it was in front of the press.

These are the "ethical leaders" in the fight against Wal-Mart. And now they are on the Palouse. Are these the kind of people we want speaking for us?

HT: Marshall Manson

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"Dylan’s law effort pushes on"

More coverage on "Dylan's Law" from Michelle Dupler in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:

Grassroots initiative would imprison for life first-time, violent sex offenders

Chelsea Fanara believes it is her duty and her right to protect her children from sex offenders.

The 24-year-old Malden resident and mother of two is collecting signatures to support Initiative 921, a proposal that would mandate life sentences without parole for first-time violent sex offenders.

The one-strike initiative, also known as Dylan’s law, was filed by Tracy Oetting, a resident of Skykomish, Wash. who is fed up with seeing sex offenders released from jail only to offend again.

“If you know they’re going to reoffend, why not do the right thing and pass a one-strike law?” Oetting said.

Critics of the initiative argue the proposal is too broad and not all first-time sex offenders deserve a life sentence.

Pullman lawyer Steve Martonick pointed to the crime of indecent liberties with forcible compulsion, one that would garner a mandatory life sentence if the initiative passes. Under existing Washington law, a man who fondles a woman in a bar without her permission can be charged with the crime. It’s a reprehensible act, he said, but not one deserving of a life sentence.

“That’s patently ridiculous for indecent liberties,” Martonick said. “That includes a lot of offenses.”

A life sentence already is an option for some violent sex offenses in Washington, but sentences are determined based on a scoring system that includes numerous factors, including whether or not the conviction is the person’s first. Fanara said that doesn’t go far enough when violent predators are set free and commit the same crimes again.

The initiative is named for Dylan Groene, a 9-year-old Coeur d’Alene boy who allegedly was murdered by Joseph Duncan III, a parolee from the Washington prison system.

In a case that captured national attention last year, Duncan allegedly kidnapped Dylan and his 8-year-old sister, Shasta, after killing their mother, brother, and their mother’s boyfriend. Shasta Groene was found with Duncan about seven weeks after she was reported missing. Dylan Groene’s body later was recovered in a remote wooded area in Montana.

Fanara heard about the case in the news and wanted to do something to make sure nothing like it happens again.

“If we had had this law in Washington before the Groene case, children’s lives could have been saved,” Fanara said.

As a mother, she is concerned about statistics that say one in six children will be raped or molested before they turn 18.

“I have two kids. Those odds aren’t good,” Fanara said.

Oetting has tried twice before to get a one-strike initiative on the ballot in Washington. Both times she failed to get the required 250,000 signatures. If she fails this time, she’s giving up, she said.

Oetting doesn’t know how many signatures she has raised this time around. She has until July 7 to get all those she needs. She hopes to hire a professional organization to circulate the petitions. A statewide yard sale Saturday served as a fundraiser. Steven Groene, father of Dylan and Shasta Groene, attended one of the yard sales in Kirkland, Wash. to support the initiative.

Fanara is disappointed by the reception she has received in Whitman County so far. She believes people who oppose the initiative aren’t well-informed about what Oetting is trying to do.

“A lot of people think it’s the 17-year-old and the 20-year-old, or the drunk peeing in public who has to register as a sex offender,” she said. “We’re focusing on violent sex offenders who prey on children.”

Martonick said the law, particularly as it relates to indecent liberties, isn’t as narrowly-tailored as Oetting and Fanara say it is.

“A life sentence for basically ass-grabbing is ridiculous,” Martonick said.

For more information about the initiative, visit www.citizensforaonestrikelaw.org or contact Fanara at whitman4groenebill@yahoo.com

"Dylan's Law" Update

There was an AP story yesterday about I-921 ("Dylan's Law") that features quotes from last week's The PES guests Tracy Oetting and Chelsey Fanara.

Not surprisingly, Steve Groene, Dylan and Shasta's dad is on board with the initiative and the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys is not.

Sounds like the initiative may have trouble reaching the required 225,000 signatures by July 7. If you would like to help, go to www.onestrikelaw.org or e-mail Chelsey at whitman4groenebill@yahoo.com. They could use some petition locations in Pullman.

Monday, April 24, 2006

"Wal-Mart battle takes cue from politics"

From today's Seattle Times:

There is no candidate. There are no ballots. There won't be an Election Day. And yet it may be the hottest, highest-stakes political contest in America today.

It's the campaign against Wal-Mart.

A year-old effort to force the nation's No. 1 private employer to change its business practices has evolved into a Washington-style brawl: tens of millions of dollars spent by Republican and Democratic political consultants using polling, micro-targeting, ads, e-mails, direct mail, grass-roots organizing and strategic "war rooms" to ply their trade in the corporate world.


Wal-Mart's main opponents are the Service Employees International Union, which started Wal-Mart Watch, and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) , which funds a separate campaign called WakeUpWalMart.com

After failing to organize employees of Wal-Mart Stores with traditional tactics, the unions decided to use modern campaign and communications methods to drag the company into the public square and to try to shame them into change.

Both groups have hammered the world's largest retailer about its wages, employee health insurance, treatment of workers and proclivity for buying non-U.S. goods. Wal-Mart has responded with counterattacks and a multimillion-dollar campaign to polish its image.

On both sides are some of the best political strategists money can buy.

WakeUpWalMart.com is run by Paul Blank, political director for Howard Dean's 2004 Democratic presidential campaign, and Chris Kofinis, who helped draft retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark into that race.

Their campaign has all the markings of the Dean and Clark insurgencies: a snappy Web site, volunteer action lists and an issues-based, grass-roots campaign.


WakeUpWalMart.com claims 212,000 supporters who can be mobilized with a computer stroke to recruit members and be at media events to shine a bad light on the Bentonville, Ark., company.

A goal of the UFCW is to show Wal-Mart's 1.3 million U.S. employees — many of whom have a low opinion of unions or fear retribution if they organize — that unionized labor can change their workplace and lives for the better.

"For years, labor leaders were fighting Wal-Mart the old way, but times have changed," Kofinis said. "Instead of organizing workers, they're trying to organize the nation" against Wal-Mart."


In the union camp, both groups send opposition research on Wal-Mart to reporters, e-mail supporters and stage events such as rallies and documentary-film screenings.
So go ahead T.V., keep on telling the citizens of Pullman that it is "none of their business" why their tax dollars are being wasted as part of this national political campaign. Keep on denying the obvious truth that the UFCW and its attorneys are allied with PARD in its fight against Wal-Mart. We're not stupid. Take a look again at last year's city council election results.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

More on the Wal-Mart Media Conference

ABC World News Tonight Business producer Charles Herman was with me on the tours of the Wal-Mart Home Office and Distribution Center. I found his entry on The WorldNewser blog detailing his first day experinces in Bentonville very interesting, and very similar to my experiences.

The day started early with a tour of the “Home Office.” Perhaps you’ve heard that it is barebones with no fancy furniture like the stores themselves. True. Perhaps you’ve heard about the row of 44 plain rooms where suppliers present their wares to Wal-Mart buyers hoping the retailer will buy them. True. Perhaps you’ve heard that the executives have small, sparse offices instead of enormous corner suites that you might expect at the world’s biggest retailer. True again.

And finally, you might wonder if the home of that smiling yellow face that promises low prices has a friendly face to greet you and say hello when you enter, just like at store. You bet it does. His name is Paul.

Wal-Mart HQ is a no frills, barebones, low cost operation. It’s like a warehouse with platform ceilings, low cubicle walls, and signs throughout the complex with quotes from the man himself, Sam Walton – “Listen to your associates, they’re our best idea generators.” Wisdom, indeed. One wall is lined in plaques and awards, while another is dedicated to employees who went beyond the call of duty. Oh, and here and there you’ll see an electronic time clock.

What really impresses, though, is the distribution center. The DC, as it is called, is enormous, reaching a height of 35 feet at the center. Rows and rows of products are stacked to the rafters. More than 200 trucks arrive daily dropping off merchandise, while another 150 trucks pick up those same items for the stores. Wal-Mart maintains a private trucking fleet of 8,000 drivers who logged over 910 million miles last year.
The picture at right above is of the conveyor system that runs along the top of the distribution center. The conveyors take items from the loading docks or storage shelf area to he loading dock at about 7 miles an hour, where cameras hooked to computers scan the items to determine which store they are bound for. Metal arms then swing out to divert the item to be loaded on the proper truck. Very efficient and very impressive.

Sean Hackbarth at American Mind compares the picture my fellow blogger Rob took of the Wal-Mart Home Office (see above) with the proposed headquarters building of the New York Times and wonders which company you would rather invest in.

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Working Families for Wal-Mart Response to Union Critics

From a Working Families for Wal-Mart press release issued last Tuesday:
Statement by Working Families for Wal-Mart Chairman, Ambassador Andrew Young, in Response to Union Leader Critics of Wal-Mart

Leadership concerned about the poor and unemployed should spend their time on strategies to grow jobs and give leadership to a global economy. Today's comments by union leader critics demonstrate again just how marginalized and shrill their political campaign has become.

"While these union leader critics launch attacks, Wal-Mart is a company busy creating thousands of jobs, offering competitive wages and benefits, and saving working families more than $2300 a year. It’s a company that’s constantly improving, as we saw again yesterday with the announcement of additional health benefit improvements that will expand eligibility for part-time workers and provide affordable coverage for associates’ children.

Wal-Mart also recently committed to build more than 50 stores in struggling urban areas, expecting to create up to 25,000 jobs in areas desperately needing employment. This is just part of a larger commitment to working families and our communities that should be applauded.

“Even as a lifelong Democrat and union-supporter, I have to say it’s time for Washington, D.C. union leaders to let working families decide where to shop and work.”
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"Clinton official troubled by attacks on Wal-Mart"

From a press release by Americans for Wal-Mart last Wednesday:
In a new interview released today by americansforwalmart.org, author and former Clinton Administration Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Economics and Statistics Paul A. London said Wal-Mart’s opponents are threatening America’s economic future by trying to limit retail competition.

“I’m very concerned about the attacks on Wal-Mart because I believe they are based on the idea that there is some good alternative to fierce competition. But there isn’t,” London said. “In politics and economics, competition is the American idea that changed the undemocratic world, where elites always prevent new people from competing. When people start to think that competition is too intense or that America can’t compete, a lot of what America is about goes away.”

In his book The Competition Solution: The Bipartisan Secret behind American Prosperity (The AEI Press), London explains that bipartisan political decisions in the 1970s to break up monopolies and near monopolies in numerous sectors of the U.S. economy made possible the growth and prosperity of the 1990s. He credits Wal-Mart with leading a “revolution in retailing” which complemented similar changes in other sectors and richly benefited the American people.

Speaking to americansforwalmart.org, London said, “Wal-Mart has been very good for America. It’s a very American phenomenon, a new guy coming along and shaking up 20 percent of the economy. It’s a model of competition that the world envies and is trying to copy. I hope there are always Americans who come along the way Sam Walton did, and the way other people did in other industries, to shake up established companies and make them serve consumers better.”

For the full press release and complete interview, please visit us at americansforwalmart.org.
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Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Asinine No SuperWalMart Ads

Did anyone notice the little 1x2 No SuperWalMart ads placed throughout today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News? The three that I saw read:
"Keep Your $$ Local!"
"Celebrate Retail Diversity!"
"(Your Reason Here)"
Each slogan is amusing in its own way. Moscow residents will most certainly not keep their dollars local without a Wal-Mart. They will continue to shop in Lewiston, Clarkston, and Spokane, where they are not so delicate about big-box stores and out-of-towners money. The whole argument about all the money spent at Wal-Mart going back to Arkansas is absurd. What about people who shop at Safeway, Rosauers, WinCo, Hastings, Ross, Macy's, Office Depot, Staples, etc., etc. Do they think those are Moscow-based businesses? Please. The environmentalists need to be concerned about the amount of putrid BS flowing on the Palouse these days more than Wal-Mart.

Retail diversity? Let me tell you, you haven't experienced retail diversity until you have been in a Wal-Mart Supercenter. The Supercenter in Rogers, AR, had more items for sale most of the stores in Moscow combined.

Finally, my fill-in-the-reason is "Make Pullman the New Retail Center of the Palouse! No SuperWalMart!" It's appropriate the ads are black. They reflect the mourning that is going to happen in the Moscow business community after May 1. The No SuperWalMart group needs to change their slogan from "Yes Moscow! No Super WalMart!" to "Yes Corridor Development! No SuperWalMart!" because that is EXACTLY what they are promoting.

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Portland and the Ravages of "Smart Growth"

Portland, Oregon, is often described as a Utopia by "smart growthers." Portland native Randal O'Toole debunks some of those myths in his column at Free-Market News Network. Good read. Check it out.

HT: Brian P.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Grow or Die

My friend Jeff Harkins at the U of I likes to say that towns either "grow or die."

A story in Monday's Lewiston Tribune illustrated that principle in action. Pullman cannot afford to look towards an obsolete economic model, as Don Pelton so eloquently put it in the Daily News last Friday. And as Don pointed out, the demise of Garfield has had nothing to do with Wal-Mart, but the decline of agriculture.

Nap time is over for town of Garfield

Like all small towns dotting the Palouse farm country, Garfield was founded more than a century ago around agriculture, commerce and the day-to-day wants and needs of rural people.

Two major railroad lines crossed here. Farm equipment dealers thrived. Schools flourished. Banks made loans with few questions asked. Local businesses feasted on an agrarian horn of plenty. Life, say old-timers, was as good here as anywhere in small town America.

But most of the farms, which used to be family oriented, got bought up and evolved into corporate entities. Asphalt turned muddy roads into thoroughfares for ever-improving transportation modes. People began to travel greater distances to work, shop and play. The day's bustle gave way to a yawn. And another bedroom community eventually took root.

"You know how the demise of these old towns goes," says Archie Neal, who worked for 35 years for the local J.E. Love farm equipment fabricator company. "When you had a farmstead on every quarter-section back then, it's a little different than one on every three sections today."

"The bulk of the people living here now, who aren't retired, work in Pullman or Moscow," says Forrest Miller, a longtime resident.

And like so many bedroom communities left amid a struggling agriculture economy, Garfield napped into the new millennium until suddenly an alarm went off.

"It was kind of a wake-up call," Neal says of the day the only cafe in town closed its doors. "A restaurant is the central part of a community. Without it, a town doesn't have the soul it needs."

And that's what Garfield was about to become -- a town of 600 people with nowhere to gather, no place to nourish its collective psyche.

Thanks Ray!

As some of you know from an earlier post this week, Palousitics contributor Ray Lindquist and his wife generously donated some money to help cover my travel expenses to Bentonville. This was unexpected but greatly appreciated. Many other bloggers were unable to attend due to the cost. Bloggers don't have the luxury of expense accounts that Mainstream Media reporters have.

Ray was one of the first regular contributors to Palousitics. I have had the opportunity since then to meet with him personally on several occasions. He is a fine man and fervent supporter of Pullman. I am privileged to call him a friend.

Thanks Ray!!!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sneak Peek

As promised, I stopped at the new Wal-Mart Supercenter in Rogers, AR on my way back to the airport yesterday to get a sneak peek at what our new Pullman Supercenter will look like. According to the Wal-Mart press release, the store opened on May 13, 2005 and was designed as a new prototype for Wal-Mart.

As you can see from the picture I took of the Rogers Supercenter and the plan for the Pullman Wal-Mart Supercenter below, they are exactly the same except for the Pullman Supercenter has a red gabled roof over the entrances.

The interior of the Rogers Supercenter is fabulous. The high ceiling, supported with exposed steel trusses, has large sun lights every 25-30 feet, giving the store a bright and airy feel. The floors are faux marble.

According to the Wal-Mart press release, the store has 36 general merchandise departments including apparel and accessories, fine jewelry, a lawn and garden center, health and beauty aids, and a full line of electronics (this was especially nice, about 10 times the selection of the Moscow Wal-Mart). In addition, the store offers a bakery, a delicatessen, a frozen food section and meat, dairy and fresh produce sections. It is open to customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will include 14 full-service, 16 express and four self check-out lanes.

It was exciting to think we could have something this nice in Pullman in a year or so.

The Rogers Supercenter is part of a larger one million square foot retail development. I was green with envy.

There are now five Supercenters in the Bentonville/Rogers area. According to Chris Lupke, the area should be totally blighted, right? Wrong. Bentonville/Rogers is booming, and I mean BOOMING. I saw new construction on every corner. Meanwhile, the downtown area is still vibrant. It’s not blight the capitalist-hating, anti-growth socialists fear, but the new development they KNOW Wal-Mart will bring.

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Sunset Over Pullman

The weather yesterday on my flight home was clear all the way from Tulsa to Spokane. I was treated to tremendous views of Pike’s Peak, the Rockies, the Wasatch Range, and the Sawtooths.

Nothing could compare, however, to flying over my town of Pullman at 35,000 feet as the sun set in the west. I had to break out my camera and snap a photo.

Voting With Their Feet

An AP story today proves that average Americans don’t want the “urban infill” and “dense housing” that the “Smart Growthers” preach about:
Americans are leaving the nation's big cities in search of cheaper homes and open spaces farther out.

Nearly every large metropolitan area had more people move out than move in from 2000 to 2004, with a few exceptions in the South and Southwest, according to a report being released Thursday by the Census Bureau.

Northeasterners are moving South and West. West Coast residents are moving inland. Midwesterners are chasing better job markets. And just about everywhere, people are escaping to the outer suburbs, also known as exurbs.

"It's a case of middle class flight, a flight for housing affordability," said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. "But it's not just white middle class flight, it's Hispanics and blacks, too."
And let’s not forget those DINKs that crave “Manhattan-style living”:
Richard Florida, a professor of public policy at George Mason University, said smaller, wealthier households are replacing larger families in many big metropolitan areas.

That drives up housing prices even as the population shrinks, chasing away even more members of the middle class.

"Because they are bidding up prices, they are forcing some people out to the exurbs and the fringe," Florida said. "Other people are forced to make moves in response to that. I don't have any sense of this abating."
Why in the world are some people trying to turn Pullman-Moscow into an “urban area” when that is what people moving here are trying to escape?

Accuracy Counts

In the spirit of "journalistic integrity," I need to be "transparent" and disclose that Michael Barbaro of the New York Times contacted me to let me know that the tie he purchased at Wal-Mart was actually blue, not red (I should have guessed). If I had known, maybe I could have called the post "Devil With a Blue Tie On" or maybe "I'm in a Blue York State of Mind." Oh well.

By the way, Marshall Manson did not direct me to say that Barbaro's tie was red. Just chalk it up to my poor vision. They had the lights turned down in the Embassy Suites meeting room. I think they were afraid Chris Kofinis was going to show up and join the Q&A (was that G. Gordon Liddy out in the hallway working security?)

I feel ashamed at this careless mistake and hope Mr. Barbaro doesn't think any less of us pro-Wal-Mart bloggers because of me.

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On The PES Today

Scotty and I will be interviewing Tracy Oetting, founder of Citizens for a One Strike Law. Her group is attemptimg to get I-921 ("Dylan's Law") on the ballot this fall. This initiative would make a life sentence without parole a mandatory sentence for those convicted of violent and predatory sexual crimes.

Chelsey Fanara, the Whitman County coordinator for the initiative, will also be on the show.

Tune in to KZUU 90.7 FM at 11:00 AM to listen. Or if you live more than 3 miles away from the CUB, you can go to kzuu.org for the streaming audio feed.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Catch the Cowards...

I promised that if I saw someone whine or complain about the media coverage of the greek system that I would respond with a letter to the editor... Well it happened.


I was just waiting for the next letter or article to appear in the Evergreen where someone in the Greek system complained about stereotypes and poor media coverage. Hardy Awadjie’s Letter to the Editor was just what I was waiting for. In it he says “It seems that as Greeks we try to show the community that we do everything we can to improve society and get rid of that negative stereotype that we constantly receive.”

By “improve society” do you mean that you will shelter men who jump a woman from behind and kick her while she is on the ground? Are you saying the negative stereotype that you constantly receive is not deserved? Are you saying turning a blind eye to a woman beater is okay? Are you saying condoning a retaliation attack against a single woman is okay? Are you saying that when a woman is down it is okay for a couple guys to keep kicking her? Are you saying it is okay for guys to jump a woman from behind?

If those people responsible for the attack on this woman were actually thrown out of their house by their “brothers” and turned in, people in the community would have a better view of the Greek system. But no one turned them in. The lack of action speaks way louder than the words you use to make positive claims about the Greek system. You have only proven what most people think -- It is a system of juvenile alcoholics who are not responsive to the community in which they live.

Those in the Greek system need to look hard at the founders of your respective houses’ and see what their values were and try to live up to them. I honestly doubt nightly drinking and beating women were part of that tradition they started.

To all those men and women in the Greek System; do the right thing. Turn in the cowards who beat women. Don’t let them ruin the good things you do for Pullman.

Headed Home

The Wal-Mart Media Conference is over, and I'm headed back to Pullman.

I'm going to stop on the way out of town and snap some photos of a new Supercenter here in Bentonville that looks a lot like the one planned for Pullman.

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Lee Scott Tackles PARD

Well, sort of. In his response to the question about the Maryland health care legislation, Wal-Mart President and CEO Lee Scott said that Wal-Mart will change for the customer and will change to be a better company, but will never change due to external pressure. He mentioned getting a letter from a town in Georgia asking about Sam Walton's pledge to never open in a town where it was not wanted. Shades of PARD. Scott's response was classic. He said that just because a few select people don't want Wal-Mart doesn't mean the whole town does not want Wal-Mart. If that were the case, Wal-Mart would never open another store. The unions are very good at finding the people in a town opposed to Wal-Mart and getting them organized.

Wal-Mart expects opposition everywhere they go but they will never back off. Scott said it is tough to legislate Wal-Mart out. Only the customers can do that.

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Ba-Ba-Ba, Ba-Ba-Barbaro

Lee Scott took some good-natured jibes at frequent Wal-Mart critic and New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro.

Scott in his speech, when talking about new organic product lines, mentioned that "even some New York reporters are wearing a George tie you can buy at Wal-Mart for $11.99." Barbaro, who was tieless yesterday, was wearing a red tie today.

He also quipped at one point "you've heard of Lee's Garage." Lee's Garage is an internal Wal-Mart message board that Scott uses to communicate with Wal-Mart employees. Excerpts of messages posted to that board were leaked to the New York Times and published in a story by Barbaro. Wal-Mart Watch and Wake Up Wal-Mart tried to get much mileage out of the posts.

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Broadcast News

I'm sitting in the media room working on my blog and they have CNBC on a big screen TV. We just watched a story on the media conference that was being filmed just out in the hall. Weird.

Lee Scott was described as being "fiery and unapologetic." Rob and I both looked at each other and said "fiery?" We had just sat through the same speech. Scott never screamed or yelled once. In fact, he had a sore throat yesterday, which also made the report.

There was also some banter between the reporter and the anchor about where could you go in the world without a Wal-Mart. How that was relevant, I don't know.

It is very enlightening to actually attend one of these events and see how the media reports it. Total bias.

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Lee's Garage Live

The reporters had a chance to ask Lee Scott some questions after his speech. Some of the more interesting responses were:

  • Wal-Mart has no official stance on illegal immigration. SCott thinks some bills are better than radiucal bills pushed by both parties.

  • Scott sees no threat to Wal-Mart from online merchants. How do you economically get things like toilet paper, etc. shipped through the mail?

  • In response to a question of "Is Wal-Mart too big?" Scott asked "What does the customer think?" If Wal-Mart is so powerful, why does it only make 3% profit? Scott said Wal-Mart needs to get out in front of issues like this and tell its story better or it will spend 10 years trying to catch up.

  • Scott doesn't know how much turnover is good or bad in a retail environment. But Wal-Mart jobs are often about learning how to work.

  • Wal-Mart has no official position on increasing the minimum wage. Scott said nobody at Wal-Mart makes the minimum wage. He thinks there would probably be an upside for Wal-Mart if the minimum wage were increased. He personally thinks its time the issue gets looked at.

  • The issue of the Maryland health care legislation came up. He said Wal-Mart has no plans to stop development in the state. He summed his personal feelings up with the word "ridiculous." Many Maryland customers had written in to apologize and say they were moving to West Virginia. He said the law was not good government and reflected only short term issues and was designed as a punishment against Wal-Mart.

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    "Real Changes. Real People. Real Results."

    Lee Scott just addressed the conference. He said that so much of what you hear about Wal-Mart is about what divides us. Visiting Wal-Mart, he said, you hear a different story. Wal-Mart is improving lives and creating opportunities. The union-funded opponents in Washington, DC need to ask the 130 million people who shop in Wal-Mart and the communities where it is located. Wal-Mart has always been about everyday working people.

    However, Scott said, Wal-Mart is a company in transformation. Wal-Mart has been successful because it has never stood still. It is making changes from a position of strength while remaining true to its core values.

    What are those changes?

  • In the area of merchandise, Wal-Mart wants to appeal more to minority, women, and affluent customers.

  • Wal-Mart wants to be a leader in diversity and become more transparent in that regard.

  • Sustainability is good for business and the environment. Scott said Wal-Mart had underestimated the benefits of sustainability and feels it will become part of the national business culture.

  • Wal-Mart is doing its part to improve health care and benefits but a long-term answer to the health care crisis will require national solutions at every level.

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    "Sustainable" Wal-Mart

    We have been listening to a presentation by Andy Ruben, Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Sustainability.

    If you read this blog regularly, you know how I feel about the "sustainability" buzzword, so it caused me to flinch a bit when I heard that Wal-Mart had a Vice President with that in his job title.

    Yesterday, we heard about "Green Stores" that Wal-Mart is prototyping in McKinney, TX and Aurora, CO. These stores have porous parking lots to reduce stormwater runoff, solar energy panels, recycling of cooking grease to heat the building, etc. Wal-Mart is installing energy efficient lighting in its distribution centers, etc.

    Mr. Ruben concentrated his presentation on "sustainable" products such as energy efficient light bulbs, wild-caught seafood, organic foods and baby clothes and environmentally friendly laptops. He even mentioned greenhouse gas and climate change. Oh no.

    One good thing that came out yesterday, in my opinion, was the fact that Wal-Mart has no plans to make their stores less "auto-centric." Duh. Can you imagine taking home a TV, barbecue, or lawnmower home on the bus on the back of your bike?

    My admiration of Wal-Mart comes from the fact that it epitomizes the best of capitalism and the free market. I also see the benefits it brings to communities that it enters. I like Wal-Mart best when it is being politically incorrect and defiant of its critics. I would be bitterly disappointed if it caved into pressure from their leftist and union opponents who won't be happy until Wal-Mart is destroyed.

    But in the spirit of learning new things at this conference, I have to admit that after a conversation I had at breakfast this morning, along with the various presentations, I can see that Wal-Mart's "green" approach is based more on efficiency, cost savings, and appealing to more upscale customers than an attempt to mollify critics. In other words, free market forces at work. That's a good thing.

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    Reporters Gone Wild

    Rob at Say Anything, my fellow blogger here at the media conference, has some some posts on the Mainstream Media elitism we have been exposed to, as well the liberal spin they are putting on the stories they are filing.

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    Day 2 Begins

    Day 2 of the Wal-Mart Media Conference began for me the way Day One ended. I had a chance to talk with Eric Zorn, Executive Vice President and President, Wal-Mart Realty. I told Mr. Zorn to ignore the critics and conveyed to him how the majority of Pullman residents, including business people, want a Pullman Supercenter. He expressed his appreciation and said he looked forward to seeing me at the grand opening!

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    Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    Day 1 is Over

    Well, Day 1 is over. It was long, I haven't had much sleep, so I'm going to bed. All in all, it exceeded my expectations. I learned a lot. Meeting Lee Scott was a thrill. I have been mentioning Pullman and our struggle to land a Supercenter to every Wal-Mart executive I met today (and there were many.) They won't forget us anytime soon.

    Of the seventy reporters here from the Mainstream Media (ABC, CBS, CNBC, Sixty Minutes, AP, Reuters, CNN/Money, US News & World Report, etc., etc.) there is one other blogger, Rob Port, of Say Anything.

    Rob has a good story with some pictures of the outside of the Wal-Mart home office (I hope to have some more pictures up soon), as well as a piece about the little UFCW counter-media event (I missed it, darn it).

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    The Low Down on Wal-Mart and Health Care

    THIS is one of the reasons I wanted to attend the media conference. Rather than relying on the Seattle Times or Google to get facts on the Wal-Mart health care "crisis," I wanted to get them straight from the source and draw my own conclusions.

    70% of Wal-Mart candidates apply for part-time jobs, even though 75% of Wal-Mart's work force is full-time. Some have health care coverage from other sources (parents, spouse, etc.). 30% of Wal-Mart's associates join with no coverage at all. 7% are on Medicaid when they start working at Wal-Mart. Only 3% remain on Medicaid after two years of employment. Last year, Wal-Mart helped 160,000 people get health care coverage. All those factors have to be considered before issuing a blanket statement that Wal-Mart has the most employees on Medicaid and Basic Health.

    Wal-Mart is continuing to improve health care benefits. Susan Chambers, Executive Vice President, People Divcision, announced that they are cutting the time requirement for part-time employees to be covered from 24 months to 12 months. That's astounding. Most employers (including WSU) don't cover part-time employees at all. They are also offering expanded coverage for associates' children.

    Wal-Mart is also making its coverage more affordable with a Value Plan (they have 18 different health plans). For a parent and two children, the annual premium is $443. Deductibles start at $1000.

    The changes must be working. 70,000 associates were added in the last enrollment period. 3/4 of those had been previously uninsured. 1/3 chose the Value Plan. A million people are now covered by Wal-Mart health plans.

    I can tell you from personal experience in private industry that the Wal-Mart benefit plans are very competitive and generous. Wal-Mart has been made into a whipping boy for the greater health care crisis in this country that will require the government, employers, and employees working together to achieve a solution.

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    Store of the Community

    "Champion the Customer" is the theme of this year's media conference.

    This morning, we got a first-hand demonstration of Wal-Mart's down-to-earth management style and core competency of logistics.

    This afternoon, we are hearing presentations from a variety of Wal-Mart executives showing how well they understand their customers.

    Wal-Mart is NOT going upscale. They are going to stick with their "loyalist" customers. But they are going to expand their offerings to try and attract the "selective" and "skeptical" shoppers that may choose Target, Costco, or another store.

    Wal-Mart's other major emphasis is tailoring their stores to the areas they are located in, not only in terms of goods sold, often targeted at particular ethic groups. In the case of Pullman, with all of our new home growth, we might get more home improvement type products.

    The really interesting part of this for me was learning how Wal-Mart real estate also tries to tailor the store to the place they build. It is no longer the case that Wal-Mart tries to make every store look the same. They strongly believe in working with the community and its leadership, involving business and community leaders, so that when the Wal-Mart is built, it will feel like their Wal-Mart. You can see how this has been the case in Pullman.

    There was a fascinating presentation from Margaret Garner, an minority woman whose company is building the first Wal-Mart in Chicago. She reemphasized the importance of community ownership and pride and taking a partnership approach with local government.

    We got to see a variety of elevations that Wal-Mart is using or planning to use around the country. Wild stuff. It is no longer one size fits all. Aesthetics are now a major concern. Wal-Mart is definitely thinking outside the box. The Pullman Supercenter design is an example of this new thinking.

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    Governor Huckabee Speaks

    We just heard from Mike Huckabee, the Governor of Arkansas and the Chairman of the National Governors Association. He recently become famous for losing 110 pounds and then running in three marathons. Huckabee is now an advocate for healthy living.

    He made as eloquent a defense of Wal-Mart as I have ever heard, touching on the free market and competition, benefits to low-income families, how people choose to work and shop there, etc.

    After his speech, Huckabee fielded some tough questions from the media, including Michael Barbaro of the New York Times. Barbaro wanted to know what other governors thought of Wal-Mart. He mentioned our illustrious governor, Chris Gregoire. Huckabee responded that most governors he knew, Democrat and Republican, were happy to have the jobs and tax benefits of Wal-Mart in their states. Gregoire, as we know, has too many union debts to pay off to be fair-minded about Wal-Mart.

    Another reporter asked Huckabee if the changes Wal-Mart is making to benefits, sustainability, etc. were only in response to critics like the UFCW. Huckabee had a great answer. He said he didn't think that was the case, but if it were, then that was proof yet again that the free market works!

    We need a governor like Huckabee in Washington.

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    Mission Accomplished

    Over lunch a little while ago, I was introduced to Wal-Mart President and CEO Lee Scott. I told him we really wanted a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman. He said they really wanted to build one.

    I have secretly fantasized for months about traveling to Bentonville, going right to the top management, and telling them to ignore all the detractors in Pullman. I never dreamed I would actually get the chance.

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    Sorry Vera

    Remember the huge government warehouse where they hide the Ark of the Covenant at the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark?" That gives you a pretty good idea of what a Wal-Mart distribution center looks like.

    It seems more laughable than ever that Vera White suggested that the current Moscow Wal-Mart will become a distribution center. The one I just toured could fit 15 Moscow Wal-Marts inside it. The Bentonville distribution center is 1.2 MILLION square feet and serves 120 stores.

    The only distribution center planned for 2007 within 1000 miles of Pullman is in Cheyenne, WY. Sorry Vera.

    Some interesting facts: Wal-Mart has 122 distribution centers in the U.S. with 85,000 employees. Wal-Mart's 8,000 truck drivers drove 910 million miles last year (some of that through Pullman).

    Note to Cynthia Hosick: Wal-Mart is installing auxiliary power units in its trucks so that they won't have to idle their engines when unloading.

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    Wal-Mart Home Office

    I just finished touring the Wal-Mart home office. It is incredibly humble and unassuming for being the nerve center of the world's largest retailer. It kind of reminded me of the Pentagon in that regard (older, not very ostentatious).

    No Wal-Mart would be complete without a door greeter, and the home office is no exception. He asked me where I was from and what I thought about the hot weather. The smell of popcorn greeted us as we entered the building.

    The home office was built in 1970. It is the original building where Sam Walton had his office. Lee Scott sits in that office now.

    Wal-Mart has 15 headquarters campus facilities in the Bentonville/Rogers area and employs 11,500. As you can guess, Bentonville and Rogers are booming.

    Wal-Mart receives 100,000 visitors a year, mainly vendors wanting to sell products to Wal-Mart. There is a whole hallway devoted to meeting rooms for vendors.

    We also saw the auditorium where the famous Saturday morning meetings are held.

    Our tour guide was the Executive Vice President of Sam's Club. He started out at Store #1 bringing in shopping carts.

    There is definitely a real mythology about Wal-Mart. Sam Walton's benevolent visage looks down at you everywhere you go in the home office. It is in many ways the ultimate success story of our time (Bentonville started off no different than Pullman). There is nothing evil here. The feeling is distinctly All-American. That's probably why the liberals hate it so much.

    Pictures later. We're off to a distribution center next.

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    ABC News, CNN...... Tom Forbes?

    It was interesting signing in this morning at the media conference. My name was on the list with representatives of big media outlets from as far away as Japan.

    My hat's off to Wal-Mart for including us "little guys" as well.

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    Monday, April 17, 2006

    In the Belly of the Beast

    I have arrived at the center of the Wal-Mart Universe: Bentonville, Arkansas. The Wal-Mart Vistor's Center is here, located in the store where Sam started it all. My hotel is even on Walton Blvd.

    The weather here is much like the infernal region the PARDners must imagine this place to be. It was 94 degrees today, an all-time record for April in Arkansas. It's supposed to be a little cooler tomorrow (88). Quite a shock for me after yesterday's snow in Pullman.

    I'll be reporting all day tomorrow as the media conference gets underway.

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    Liberals Without Borders

    Even on the road, I see the cross-border lovefest between the PARDners and the No SuperWal-Mart group over in Moscow continues.

    Last week in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Peggy Jenkins of No SuperWal-Mart was calling me a liar for saying that PARD's attorneys work for the UFCW.

    Today, Pullman resident and former Democratic state representative candidate Gail Rowland urged Moscowans to come out for the May 1 city council meeting and oppose the rezone for Wal-Mart. When we last heard from Rowland she was trying to drum up votes for Judy Krueger and wondering if attending three meetings makes you a member of PARD.

    Rowland also had some disparaging words for Pullman. She now joins the Daily Evergreen in recently dissing our town in favor of Moscow.

    Besides the extremely disloyal aspects of supposed civic leader Rowland's letter, I am curious as to what makes our local liberal moonbats feel they have the right, and indeed, the obligation it seems, to meddle in the affairs of another city in a another state, neighbors or not.

    Maybe everyone in Pullman should write a letter urging Moscowans to oppose Wal-Mart. While you're at it, sign No SuperWal-Mart's petition, just like several thousand Moscow and Latah County residents did for PARD. Running Wal-Mart out of Moscow would be a huge bonanza for Pullman's economy.

    Come to think of it, thanks Gail!! Keep up the good work!

    Make your voice heard

    I want to congratulate the residents of Moscow and their City Council, and Planning and Zoning Commission. You all are making a better community of the Palouse with your efforts and thoughtful debate which have created many good decisions, for now, and for future generations.

    I just received an e-mail regarding the May 1 Moscow City Council meeting to hear an appeal by CLC Developers of Spokane to rezone77 acres across the Troy Highway from the Moscow Cemetery. I hope all of you voting residents of Moscow become aware of this meeting and voice your opinion. This meeting is to discuss allowing big-box stores, such as a Wal-Mart Supercenter, to locate in Moscow. It appears that you, as a resident of Moscow, have the right, obligation and ability to determine your own future. You have been actively doing that for several decades and that is why Moscow has a very viable, and successful business community. Also, because of the laws you have thoughtfully passed.

    We in Pullman, your neighbor, have not been so fortunate to have had your foresight or good judgment and council. Take advantage of your ability to keep Moscow, my neighbor community, a very special place. Attend the May 1 meeting and make your voice heard.

    Gail Rowland, Pullman
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    OK Bentonville -- Lets help

    OK Pullman this would be a GREAT time to put up or shut up on this Wal-Mart or better yet PRO-Business stuff. I know we would not be in the place we are today with all of this growth if it was not for Tom Forbes I think we need to 'chip-in' and send him for two reasons.

    1# Just as a plain "THANKS Tom" for his getting the ball rolling on Pullman starting to "Grow Smart".

    2# I know it can't be easy for a family man now days with all the costs jumping almost every day on one thing or another. I know I have hard time making ends meet so I am sure Tom could use the help. Add to this he will be a delegate to the state GOP Convention later this spring.

    So to that end I will be sending a check to Tom at the below address. I would hope that you in the business community or others that think what Tom has started here with Wal-Mart is a good idea PLEASE send a large check to him also, I am sure he could use the help.

    As I type this Tom is already on his way to Bentonville, so lets load that mail box up with checks by the time he gets back, OK Pullman?

    Tom Forbes
    Pullman, Wa 99163

    You know Scotty you may have something there :

    Scotty said...
    Is it me, or did our future State Rep just speak to us?

    Sunday, April 16, 2006

    Bentonville Bound

    This blog's purpose is to comment on current events in Pullman, the Palouse, and Washington State. Nothing has dominated headlines on the Palouse more in the last year than the proposals to build Wal-Mart Supercenters in Pullman and Moscow.

    To that end, I have accepted an invitation to attend, at my own expense, the Second Annual Wal-Mart Media Conference in Northwest Arkansas on April 18th and 19th.

    The conference will feature presentations by CEO Lee Scott, CFO Tom Schoewe, Wal-Mart Stores, USA President and CEO Eduardo Castro-Wright and other Wal-Mart executives from the operations, merchandising and administrative divisions, and will be followed by a question and answer session. In addition to focusing on timely issues affecting the industry and the company, the conference will feature:

  • A highlight of upcoming advertising and marketing activities

  • A preview of cutting-edge merchandise

  • Tours of the Home Office and Distribution Center

  • An overview of healthcare initiatives

  • Break-out sessions on the role of the company's Emergency Operations Center and position on sustainability issues

  • A discussion of market and consumer trends and how Wal-Mart is responding

  • I'm wanting to hear how Wal-Mart is responding to their critics and what they have planned for the future. It's important for the residents of Pullman to know. I'll be reporting back both during the conference and after I get home.

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    He is Risen

    He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

    - Matthew 28:6

    Saturday, April 15, 2006

    "Courting the Criminal Vote"

    Another good column in today's Lewiston Tribune by Michael Costello. You can find it on his blog here.

    I highly recommend it to you. It gives you an idea of what the Washington State Democrats are all about.

    Pullman Held Hostage: Day 195

    Since PARD filed its Site Plan appeal on October 3 2005, Pullman has lost:

  • $389,510.80 in sales and property tax revenues (based on data presented at the appeal hearing by Johnson Gardner and the Whitman County Assessor's Office)

  • $16,980.65 in direct fees associated with the appeal (based on figures from Pullman Finance Director Troy Woo)

  • Incalculable hours of the city staff's time spent in preparation for and attendance at the appeal hearings, keeping them from other important business of the people

  • In return, PARD has gained:

  • An increased contribution (anywhere from 21% to 100%) from Wal-Mart for a traffic light at Grand and Fairmount that was already planned

  • A traffic light at Bishop and Pro Mall Blvd. that will never exist


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    Not a surprising drug arrest.

    Maybe it is because I am a law and order type of guy. I like the idea of certain things being legal and illegal. When I saw two places sprout up in Pullman in the last two years I was concerned. Unlike WalMart which sells things that law-abiding citizens need and use, we have two places near Dissmores that sell "Tobacco" accessories.

    No cry of foul when these businesses opened shop. No one tried to stand in the way. Any wonder why they are BOTH on the north side of town close to the student population? I know why they did it. When selling bongs and pipes you want to be close to the people who buy them.

    I wonder, if both businesses are clean, why they would take the time to cover all their windows so you cannot see in from the outside. What are they hiding? Why do they hold hours of stoners? Tobacco smokers typically are not sleeping in until 10 or 11 everyday.

    Besides, what "accessory" does a tobacco smoker need? A lighter, some matches, and maybe an ashtray. There is no need to cover the windows if that is all you sell.

    The bottom line is that they are selling items that drug users use. Thursday's bust only proves that. A couple of the stores' owners were busted for pot possession. They also found pot at the store itself.

    WalMart may be an "evil" corporation which sells low-cost products to small town America, but at least they are not selling bongs to the college students.

    Viva Monterrey, Pt. II

    Some of the information below was derived from Wikipedia.

    While I was in Monterrey, I was regaled several times with stories of how Regios, as the citizens of Monterrey are called, are known for their thriftiness and industriousness. One story goes that the depression between the two distinctive peaks of the Cerro de la Silla were caused when a Regio dropped a penny and kept digging until he found it!

    Monterrey was founded in 1596 by Diego de Montemayor, who settled the area with 12 Jewish families who had been converted to Catholicism so as to escape the Inquisition.

    Monterrey also has a long tradition of entrepreneurship and independence. Many of Monterrey’s companies are not state-owned like those found in the rest of Mexico. This has helped to make Monterrey an economic powerhouse and given it the nickname “Sultan of the North.”

    Monterrey is a major industrial center, second only to the nation's capital Mexico City. As a result of its strong steel industry, it is often called "the Pittsburgh of Mexico".

    Monterrey´s industrialization process was accelerated in the late 19th century by the Compañia Fundidora de Fierro y Acero Monterrey. The Fundidora (“Foundry”) is today a large park, shopping and entertainment complex (see picture above).

    Monterrey is also the home of powerful Mexican conglomerates, such as Cemex (world's second largest cement company), Bimbo (bakery), Maseca (food), Banorte. The FEMSA Corporation owns a large brewery, the Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma. This brewery is possibly the largest in Mexico; it produces the brands Sol, Tecate, Indio and several others.

    “Bimbo” appears prominently on the jerseys of the Monterrey Rayados soccer team, making it a popular souvenir among Norteamericanos.

    In the year 2000, the economic resources of Monterrey accounted for more than $31.3 billion. By the end of 2005, there were more than 13,000 manufacturing companies, 55,000 retail stores, and more than 52,000 service firms. Monterrey accounts for about 95 % of the State of Nuevo Leon's GDP, and 18% of Mexico's manufactured exports come from this city.

    In 1999 Fortune magazine voted Monterrey as the best city in Latin America in which to do business. The magazine attributes its economic wealth in part to its proximity with the United States-Mexican border and mentions Monterrey as a significant city with economic links to the United States.

    The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been a boon to Monterrey’s economy. Monterrey has become the site of many maquiladoras. Maquiladoras temporarily import component parts from the U.S. or other countries and then export the product, either directly, or indirectly, by selling them to another maquiladora or exporter. The maquiladoras benefit U.S. firms by allowing them to become more competitive in world markets by combining American advanced technology with lower cost labor and benefit Mexico by alleviating unemployment and encouraging foreign investment.

    On the road into Monterrey from Apodaca, I passed a HUGE Whirlpool plant. A quick Google search revealed that many of the front-loading washing machines sold in America are made there.

    Monterrey was also voted city number 87 (scoring a 92), in terms of Quality of Living, by Mercer Human Resource Consulting on 2005, on their worldwide report. This makes Monterrey the top city in Latin America in terms of Quality of Life (which includes safety, income levels, purchasing power, education opportunities and health services).

    I can personally attest to that. While waiting to go to dinner one night, I was dropped off at a large shopping mall called Galerias Monterrey. I was quite surprised. It was in every way the equivalent of a nice American shopping mall in terms of both goods and shoppers.

    But Monterrey was a suprise to me at every turn. It is a true testimony to the triumph of free enterprise and globalization. If all of Mexico were like Monterrey, there would be no illegal immigration problem. But it isn't. More on immigration later.

    We're Adjourned

    Earliest that's happened in a while, so they tell me.

    Delegates Elected to Washington State Republican Convention

    Elected Delegates:

    Joe Harrison
    Joe Schmick
    John Goyke
    Larry Cochran
    Kelly Messinger
    Nancy Gregory
    Steve Naught
    Susan Fagan
    Tom Forbes
    Vangee Harrison

    Automatic Delegates:

    Wes Taylor
    Harmon Smith
    Jan Smith


    Paula Kimmel

    Unopposed Local Candidates

    Eunice Coker, Auditor, announced her intention to run for re-election. She is being opposed this fall by a Democratic nominee. Eunice warned against complacency with a very active Whitman County Democratic Party out there.

    Shirley Bafus, County Clerk, invited people to drop by the county offices to see how things work.

    Joe Reynolds, County Assessor, joked "don't bring any knives or guns!"

    Dennis Tracy, Prosecutor, said he has made an efficient use of resources at the prosecutor's office. 300 felony and 1400 misdemeanor cases last year. He is also getting an education in land use law.

    Brett Myers, Sheriff, said he runs the office with a philosophy of "do what is right," "do the best you can," and "treat everyone as you want to be treated."

    Bon Lothspeich, Treasurer, said his office does a tremendous job managing the resources it is given and jokingly reminded everyone to "pay your taxes."

    Pete Martin, Coroner, runs the most efficient coroner's office in the state.

    We also heard from 9th District State Senator Mark Schoesler and retiring State Representative Don Cox.

    Michael Largent and Harmon Smith Have Been Nominated for District 3 County Commissioner

    Michael Largent 54%
    Harmon Smith 33%
    Jeannine Larkin 7%
    Jim White 7%

    Nominations for District 3 County Commissioner

    Michael Largent, farmer from Colfax. He said we need a candidate who is electable and reflects our values.

    Jeannine Larkin, businesswoman from Hay. She said the three biggest myths in Whitmamn County are "The check is in the mail," "I'm a politician and I'm here to help," and "It's easy to build in rural Whitman County." She is pro-business and pro-property rights.

    Harmon Smith, a farmer from LaCrosse. He is concerned Whitman County isn't all it can be. Supports living wage jobs and dialog between parties who differ on issues.

    Jim White, farmer from south of St. John. Also spoke of economic development and his leadership skills.

    David Buri Has Been Nominated for 9th District State Representative

    Buri is running unopposed for the second position in the 9th District. He was nominated by voice vote.

    Joe Schmick and Steve Hailey Have Been Nominated for 9th District State Representative

    Joe Schmick 55%
    Steve Hailey 26%
    Tedd Nealey 16%

    Nominations for 9th Legislative District

    Steve Hailey, a farmer from Mesa in Franklin County.
    Spoke of rural economic development.

    Ted Nealey, a farmer from LaCrosse. Spoke of education, water, and making Washington more business-friendly.

    Joe Schmick, a businessman from Colfax. Also spoke of supporting business and improving education. Wants to lower B&O taxes and reform unemployment insurance and L&I. Supporter of property rights.

    Mike McGavick and Cathy McMorris Nominated

    Both candidates nominated by voice vote.

    Nominations for U.S. Congress

    Susan Fagan spoke on behalf of Mike McGavick.

    Shan Kelly, from Cathy McMorris' office, spoke for Cathy McMorris.

    Both candidates are unopposed at the state level.

    Nomination of Candidates About to Begin

    Eunice Coker, Whitman County Auditor, explained that under current state law, anyone can file as a Democratic or Republican candidate. Both parties have sued to overturn this law. It is unlikely that this suit will be resolved by the candidate filing date.

    The Republican Party requires that its candidates receive at least 25% of the vote at a nominating convention. That is what we are doing today. The state party has vowed not to let anyone run as a Republican outside this rule. If we didn't hold this process before the law is potentially overturned, we would have to hold another convention.

    If nothing else, the candidates selected today will have the official blessing of the party.

    I Am In The Wrong Row

    The delegates have to be seated at the front of the auditorium, so now I am sitting beside fellow Pullman resident Ron Wachter.

    The Public Service Building auditorium here in Colfax is packed out with 58 delegates, 1 alternate and many guests.

    I Must Be In The Wrong Row

    I'm sitting in the same row as Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers, Whitman County Prosecutor Dennis Tracy, State Representatives Don Cox and David Buri, Whitman County Commissioner Jerry Finch, and Whitman County Commissioner candidates Jim White and Jeannine Larkin.

    It's inspiring how many of our local elected officials are Republicans.

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    Live Blogging from the Whitman Co. GOP Convention

    Tomorrow, I will be attending the Whitman County Republican Convention in Colfax as Precinct Committee Officer for Precinct 120. Important decisions will be made as we decide on candidates to replace retiring Whitman County Commissioner Les Wigen and retiring 9th District State Representative Don Cox.

    I will be live blogging throughout the day with updates on the proceedings.

    I will be checking comments. Feel free to provide feedback.

    What Are These Men Laughing At?

  • The arrogant horse's ass who fancies himself the second coming of Edward R. Murrow?

  • The liberals playing the McCarthyism card AGAIN?

  • The notion that Judy Krueger, Nella van Dyke, Jason and Deirdre Rogers, et. al. have lived in Pullman for 17, 27 or 37 years?

  • The best non-denial denial (e.g. the firm handling the appeal is funded by the UCFW, so technically PARD is not getting money directly) since the days of John Mitchell, CREEP, and Woodward and Bernstein?

  • The thought of over 4,000 PARD petition signers (some as far as away as Australia) who don't even live in Pullman contributing to PARD's legal fund?


    Operation "Annoy the Left Wing Intelligentsia" has been a huge success!!!

    Every word that PARD wastes disputingthe obvious, justifying their futile existence, or attacking me personally distracts them from their true goal of stopping Wal-Mart and denying Pullman the economic growth and tax revenue we deserve. That makes it all worthwhile.

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    BREAKING NEWS: Wal-Mart Is Getting Closer

    Yesterday, at 1:40 PM, the sale of 28 acres adjacent to Bishop Blvd. in Pullman from Shoemaker Co. to Wal-Mart Stores was closed. The sale price was $1.4 million, or around $53,000 an acre.

    The excise tax paid on the sale was $22,561.65. That was our first financial benefit from Wal-Mart.

    That ought to take care of the rumors that Wal-Mart is pulling out of Pullman and heading for the corridor. It should also let PARD know what Wal-Mart thinks of their futile appeal.

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