Last night's Moscow City Council meeting to decide the Thompson rezone request by CLC Associates went so late that the matter will now be decided May 15.
There was much silliness on the No SuperWalMart side (though nothing to compare with deer testicles and undesirable social classes), but here a couple of my favorite quotes:
Linda Pike, candidate for District 3 Latah County Commissioner, stated: "We have many local businesses that would be affected by a big development like this. We need to give them consideration. They were here first."
Whaaaaaat?? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Wal-Mart ALREADY a local business? They simply want to expand. Where's the consideration for them? Plus, if you want to talk about who was here first, Wal-Mart has been in Moscow for OVER 15 YEARS!! That's much longer than many of the Third World, hand-made, touristy, hippie craft stores that are opposing them. That's the craziest thing I've ever heard anyway. There is no principle in economics that guarantees a business an eternal right to exist just by being in a market first. Just ask Pan Am or TWA.
The biggest knee-slapper, however, came from Gerard Connelly, owner of Tri-State, who said: “I hate the thought of spending eternity watching all those people go in and out of the unnamed business.”
You need a program to keep track of what side of the Wal-Mart issue Connelly is taking each day. First, Connelly was a long-time vocal critic of a Pullman Wal-Mart (for obvious reasons) and darling of PARD. He was later a key signer of a Moscow business petition to the Latah Economic Development Council against a Supercenter there.
Then suddenly, when plans for a large retail development in Whitman County were announced, Connelly was quoted in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News as saying, “I understand the council’s concern about big-box stores, but Moscow doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Pullman is welcoming big-box business and that’s a bigger threat to Moscow.” It's enough to make you dizzy.
I also have some news for Connelly and PARDner Bob Grunewald, who didn't want to "spend eternity at the ass-end of Wal-Mart." Whether you believe in Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Vishnu, or nothing at all, I can guarantee that you are not going to care if you are buried near a Wal-Mart.
Councilwoman Linda Pall recused herself from the proceedings because of a comment she made about Wal-Mart to the property owner. Clever. With Pall out, there is no possibility of a tie vote with only five council members left, sparing Mayor Nancy Chaney the possible political indelicacy of having to cast the deciding vote (and thus keeping her reelection hopes alive).
In any case, the die seems cast. Before last night's meeting, Councilmen Bob Stout, Aaron Ament, and John Dickinson led a rally to have the Moscow Police Department represented by the Service Employees International Union, the good folks behind Wal-Mart Watch. I think we can all guess how they will vote on the rezone.
All that remains now is for Wal-Mart to build in Pullman and possibly in the Hawkins Companies development in the Pullman-Moscow corridor and wait for the old Wal-Mart in Moscow to be closed. The business community in Moscow is going to have to pay a very high price for allowing a loud, left wing minority to take over while sitting on the sidelines. But we in Pullman should not get complacent, even though we will benefit from Moscow's misfortunes. We have also allowed a loud, left wing minority to think they are in the majority here. Mainstream residents of the Palouse can no longer to afford to remain silent.
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