Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Oh, Deary!

“I would go in the other direction. If a reporter asked if you and Hardin were friends, I’d say ‘No, we’re good friends.’ If they asked if you were good friends, ‘I’d say no, no, we’re lifelong friends.’ Give them no place to go, nothing to report, no story. I mean, there’s no sense in defusing a bomb after it’s already…it’s already gone off.”

- Jack Ryan, Clear and Present Danger
Why PARD persists in denials and running from their union benefactors is beyond me. The bomb has already gone off. Why not just come right out and publicly embrace the UFCW as their ally in the war against Wal-Mart? All of the anti-Wal-mart groups on the West Side admit the truth. Why not PARD? Concealing the relationship only keeps the “controversy” alive.

I wrote the following letter to the editor that appeared in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News on March 25.
There’s an African proverb that states “when the elephants fight, the grass suffers”.

Once perhaps, the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development could have been considered “grassroots”. With PARD’s retention of the Seattle law firm of Bricklin Newman Dold to handle their latest appeal to the Whitman County Superior Court, the "grassroots" appellation can no longer apply.

Bricklin Newman Dold is the hired gun of the United Food and Commercial Workers union in Washington State. A quick Google search of the individual names “David Bricklin”, “Claudia Newman” or “Jennifer Dold”, coupled with “Wal-Mart”, will produce numerous stories of how the UFCW has recently retained the firm in legal fights against Wal-Mart in Mount Vernon, Yelm, Mill Creek, Arlington, and Marysville.

One excited member of the Yelm Commerce Group, which was opposing a Wal-Mart Supercenter in that community, once posted on an internet message board that “the UFCW (grocery store workers union) has decided that our case against Wal-Mart had merit and asked Mr. Bricklin to move ahead with the appeal”.

The common theme in the appeals and battles against Wal-Mart in these towns, as well as in Pullman, is traffic. Why is a grocery union interested in traffic you ask? It's not. The UFCW can’t unionize Wal-Mart, so it has launched a multi-million dollar campaign to put Wal-Mart out of business. Traffic impact and urban blight are just canards.

Last November, PARD spokesperson Christopher Lupke stated in a letter to the editor that PARD received no support or funding from any labor union. I wonder if he could make that claim now?

Pullman is just another battlefield in the war between the union behemoth and the world’s largest retailer. And we, like the grass in the proverb, suffer. It’s cost the city $17,000 so far and counting.
Neither Christopher Lupke nor Cynthia Hosick chose to address my union accusations in their letters to the editor over the past couple of days. No, the cowards turned to yet another out-of-town attorney for that, local liberal "activist" Peggy Jenkins. Jenkins, a shrill mouthpiece for the No Super Wal-Mart group over in Moscow, writes the following in today’s Daily News:
Argument is a red herring

The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development is a group of regular citizens who strongly believe that a giant Wal-Mart would be bad for Pullman. Opponents look for any opportunity they can to tar the group with a “union” label. This is Wal-Mart’s strategy: Dismiss the opposition to Wal-Mart as “pro-union” so you don’t have to address their legitimate criticisms.

Tom Forbes now claims to have found PARD’s “union label,” but his logic is faulty. He claims that, because the appeals lawyer hired by PARD has represented a union, and because that union has (apparently) helped to fund the anti-Wal-Mart effort in Yelm, the union must be paying for PARD’s appeal. Forbes ignores the reality, which is that lawyers represent many different clients, and there is no reason to believe two clients are working together just because they have the same lawyer.

In any event, Forbes’ argument is a red herring. It is true that employee unions have good reasons for opposing giant Wal-Marts, but that does not take away from the fact that grass roots efforts like PARD are created and driven by the hard work of regular people, the great majority of whom have no union affiliations, who care about what is best for their community. If you doubt that, I encourage you to talk with one of the members of PARD to find out who they are and why they are doing what they’re doing. If you do, you’ll come to appreciate that their motives and their intentions are genuine, regardless of whether you agree with them.

The good news is that PARD is not an elephant. The bad news is that Wal-Mart is the biggest elephant around, and it only takes one big elephant to mess up the grass.

Peggy Jenkins
Thanks Peg! Your denials have just proven PARD’s union affiliation yet again!

Bricklin Newman Dold has handled every Wal-Mart legal appeal in the state of Washington over the last few years on behalf of the UFCW. That’s a fact. How is my inductive inference any different than the negative conclusions all the jihadis, such as Jenkins, have eagerly drawn from anti-Wal-Mart web sites and documentaries?

The best way to end the “controversy” is for PARD to be transparent and open up their books to public examination. Let them prove that all of the “grass roots” money they have spent on attorney’s fees has been raised by the “hard work of regular people” (does anyone else hear Bette Midler singing?).

Oh, and by the way Counselor, you're out of order. When Wal-Mart decides to open in your sleepy little hamlet of Deary, feel free to object. In the meantime, you're out of your jurisdiction in Pullman. Keep your elitist opinions on your side of the border.

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April E. Coggins said...

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.

Directly from PARD's public record appeal:

8.32 The presence of a Wal-mart Supercenter in Pullman, Washington will undermine the the local business economy, result in in the closure of of locally owned and operated businesses, will cause many businesses to shut down in the downtown area, and will result in blight, i.e., there will be serious and extensive impacts on the built environment and land uses in Pullman as is contemplated by SEPA.

8.33 Wal-Mart's business practices generate net losses when the public benefits of tax revenue, employment, and inexpensive goods and services are compared to the costs of Wal-Mart to the community.

8.34 Wal-Mart fails to pay its employees a living wage or provide affordable health care, passing these costs on to the public, greatly increasing the public costs of a Wal-Mart as compared to other retail operations. The largest group of state residents applying for coverage under Washington Basic Health Care Plan us Wal-Mart employees, far out of proportion to their numbers in the state labor force.

8.35 Wal-Marts business practices include the elimination of competition, the undermining of unions, underemployment, and downward pressure on wages. The introduction of Wal-Mart to Pullman may result in a net loss of jobs, due to the closure of local stores and businesses.

April E. Coggins said...

I do wonder if Peggy Jenkins was on a recent "group trip" with Chris Lupke.