Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Saturday, October 21, 2006

"Wal-Mart ruling cries, 'Whoa' to local PARDners"

Another classic column from Michael Costello in today's Lewiston Tribune:
Perhaps now we will learn the composition of those "undesirable social elements" whom the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development (PARD) so fears, now that Whitman County Superior Court Judge David Frazier found that the anti-development cabal failed to make a convincing case against Wal-Mart in his court.

That a Wal-Mart might attract such lowlifes to Pullman was one of the arguments dismissed by the hearing examiner who first heard PARD's appeal against Wal-Mart and found that PARD had no case. Dissatisfied with democracy and due process, PARD sued in Superior Court and initially found a sympathetic ear in Frazier.

This last week, however, Frazier ruled that, after holding the process up in his court for months, there were insufficient grounds to overturn the hearing examiner's ruling. The tone of his decision, or at least the fragments reported by the media, imply that he personally disapproved of Wal-Mart, but lacked the evidence and therefore the authority to inflict his wishes from the bench.

Now that's nice to hear. Not only because I believe that a Wal-Mart will contribute to the economic well-being of Pullman, but it was also refreshing to hear that a judge limited his ruling to the narrow confines of the authority that the law grants his office. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

In a little over two weeks, Washington voters will have the opportunity to unseat a very powerful judge who does not acknowledge that her office has limits to its power. She has, in fact, awarded herself the power to rule by fiat when the Washington Legislature fails to keep up with her liberalism. Earlier this year, she voted to overturn marriage as we know it. She also voted to award custody of a child to a lesbian even though the woman was neither the child's biological or adoptive parent. She has gained notoriety for her seeming hostility to the concept of private property rights, and in doing so has become a darling of the green weenie lobby.

"The Legislature is really behind the times socially," Washington State Supreme Court Justice Susan Owens recently told the Yakima Herald, defending her predisposition to invent laws that the Legislature has not yet gained the enlightenment to pass.

No doubt the company she keeps at the tofu and organic papaya juice parties she certainly attends helps keep her social evolution well ahead of the Legislature's, or yours or mine.

Owens' judicial legislation provoked such intense opposition during the primary election that Gov. Christine Gregoire proposed that judicial elections be insulated from the sort of unmanaged debate that was once considered an essential element of a healthy democracy. Gregoire thinks that public financing was the answer. Of course public financing means that parties aggrieved by Owens' judicial activism will never be allowed to seriously challenge her re-election, which is precisely the point.

Fortunately, Pullman remains a socially unevolved backwater where laws are enacted by votes and judges do not consider it their anointed duty to lead the way socially. As such, we will probably have a Wal-Mart in Pullman.

"PARD disagrees with the hearing examiner and, by extension, Judge Frazier in their narrow interpretation of city and state codes," PARD spokesman T.V. Reed complained. "But the larger issue is clear: Pullman's laws do not give citizens real choice about the nature and degree of development."

Wrong. The larger issue is that the law has given Pullman citizens a voice and their will was reflected in the approvals that Wal-Mart has received every step of the way. The city council and the democratically enacted laws that manage development were all observed. PARD sought to thwart the will of the people and subvert the laws enacted by their elected representatives. The problem is that PARDners cocoon with other PARDners and assume, like Susan Owens, that they are in tune with everyone else because everyone in their cocoon thinks the same way that they do.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart will soon accomplish what liberal politicians have not been able to do -- deliver low-cost prescription medicine to those who otherwise could not afford it. In doing so, they have forced other retailers to follow. Why go to Canada or Mexico when you can go to Pullman?
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1 comment:

Paul E. Zimmerman said...

Good read! Thanks!

My ballot is completed and ready to head out into the mail system. I've voted for Johnson over Owens, so I'm hoping she'll have to cry into her organic juice punch at what would have been her reelection party.

As to Reed et al., I love how they keep trotting out that "no voice for the people!" line. My voice has been, "GIVE ME WALMART!" My guess is that PARDners actually have their own dialect and that expression is unknown to them.