Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Is Criticism of Evangelical Christianity Racist?

Michael raises an excellent point about criticism of Islam. If criticism of Islam is racist, it follows then that criticism of evangelical Christianity is racist as well.

Suppose the movie "Jesus Camp" (see trailer above) were shown at WSU, would the group that showed it be considered "undisputably racist?" Would there be "guaranteed protests" because local evangelical Christians found it "offensive and hateful?"

Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said this about the film:
It does represent a small portion of the charismatic movement, but I think it demonizes it. Secularists are hoping that evangelical Christians and radicalized Muslims are essentially the same, which is why they will love this film.
"Jesus Camp" was shown last semester as part of the WSU Progressive Film Series. The WSU Young Democrats promoted the film at a meeting in January and I'm sure many of them attended the screening. I don't recall any outrage.

I would disagree with Rev. Haggard. Secular humanists don't want radical Muslims and evangelical Christians to be the same. As our little bleeding hearts' actions indicate, they obviously hate Christians and love Muslims. Take a photo of Christ covered in urine, win an award. Throw the Koran in the toilet, go to jail. Is this racism? According to the YDs it is, and they ought to know.

My advice to the WSU YDs is not bother protesting any showing of the films about Islam. I guarantee that the stench of hypocrisy will overwhelm you.

Who's Stupider - Rosie O'Donnell or Keith Olberman?

I haven't decided yet if Sutra should be a write-in candidate or not.

Is Criticism of Islam Racist?

I'm pleased that Ibrahim Hooper describes Islam as an ideology.

By the way, I knew that Hooper's smear of Robert Spencer was a bunch of crap, but here, Spencer answers Hooper himself.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Well, not my summer vacation. We didn't have summer camps like this when I was a kid.

Perhaps we could call it, "From Russia with Love," or something like that.

Nashi's annual camp, 200 miles outside Moscow, is attended by 10,000 uniformed youngsters and involves two weeks of lectures and physical fitness.

Attendance is monitored via compulsory electronic badges and anyone who misses three events is expelled. So are drinkers; alcohol is banned. But sex is encouraged, and condoms are nowhere on sale.

Bizarrely, young women are encouraged to hand in thongs and other skimpy underwear - supposedly a cause of sterility - and given more wholesome and substantial undergarments.

Twenty-five couples marry at the start of the camp's first week and ten more at the start of the second. These mass weddings, the ultimate expression of devotion to the motherland, are legal and conducted by a civil official.

Attempting to raise Russia's dismally low birthrate even by eccentric-seeming means might be understandable. Certainly, the country's demographic outlook is dire. The hard-drinking, hardsmoking and disease-ridden population is set to plunge by a million a year in the next decade.

But the real aim of the youth camp - and the 100,000-strong movement behind it - is not to improve Russia's demographic profile, but to attack democracy.

Under Mr Putin, Russia is sliding into fascism, with state control of the economy, media, politics and society becoming increasingly heavy-handed. And Nashi, along with other similar youth movements, such as 'Young Guard', and 'Young Russia', is in the forefront of the charge.

Sounds like more fun that smores and burnt weenies on a stick.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Why We Moderate

The anonymous troll known as "Sutra" wrote the following in a post that I rejected earlier:
Saying something is racist is not name calling. Just ask yourself, are you making massive generalization against a huge group of people based on there [sic] religion? If you are, that can be easily construed as raciest [sic]. I assume this post will be deleted as well. But I hope you realized [sic] this defeats the whole idea of conversation. Tell me why it is not racist. Make a counter clam[sic]. I would love to debate.
Sutra is a WSU Young Democrat. On the WSU Young Democrats message board, the following message was posted today by a "Geoff Ringwald"
Coming Soon...More CR tomfoolery

They are at it again but this time is it against an entire culture of people.

I was just perusing the pages of our favorite conservitive [sic] blog. When ran[sic] across this.


We are in for yet another interesting year. I think that allies will be easy to come by thanks to the CR’s undisputable racism.

See you guys soon and we will talk about this.
First of all, for God's sake, if you going to bash this blog, learn how to spell "conservative." It's embarrassing for me as a Washington taxpayer. Take more basic spelling and grammar courses and fewer comparative ethnic studies courses.

Secondly, saying some group is "undisputably racist" IS libelous and an incitement to violence and I won't have it. Your agenda to shut the CRs up rather than engage in real debate is clear. It's obvious why you come here for "conversation," as your own message board is dead and overrun with spam postings. Plus, you're jealous of the CR's because they had national attention last year that you could only dream about. Instead of scheming with your "allies" against the CRs, why don't you get off your asses and get your own ideas and promote your own agenda for a change?

And as Ivar Haglund used to say, I'm going to "keep clam" because you won't be making a "foolery of Tom" here.

April and I actually have the guts to attach our names to causes we believe in. As a result, we have been viciously slimed by the local leftist scumbags in the last few days. Excuse me if I seem cranky, but I am in no mood to suffer anonymous little sophomoric fools.

The Palousitics Acceptable Use Policy

Reasonable, factual, thought-provoking comments and debate are always welcome.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

This is MY blog, NOT the U.S. Congress'. I will feel free to delete, moderate, or otherwise dispose of comments, for any reason, or no reason.

The government has not passed a law (yet) against blogging. If you wish to toss brickbats at me, Wal-Mart, the WSU College Republicans, George W. Bush, or whatever, mindlessly parrot MoveOn.org or Wake-Up Wal-Mart talking points, or engage in libel, flamebaiting, trolling, disruption, or mindless name calling, you are more than welcome to post on any of the other 71 million blogs out there or create one of the new blogs that are created every second.

As much as I detest liberal cretins like TV Reed, Chuck Pezeshki, and David Leonard, at least they have the balls to publicly attack me using their real names. If you can grow a pair and use a verifiable real name, or at least make your identity known to me in private as many Palousitics contributors and commenters have done, you may write and debate whatever you please, no matter how detestable, within the bounds of the law. Anonymous cowards, as referenced in John Gabriel's theory above, will be treated accordingly.

Two Pinkos Endorse the Surge

In the New York Times, no less.

VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

A Hate Crime?????????????

A Pace University (New York)student tosses a Koran in the toilet and he's charged with two felonies and is facing 23 years in prison.

As Michelle Malkin points out, he'd have been okay if he'd burned a flag or submerged as crucifix in a jar of urine.
I'm thinking of painting a picture of Mohammed using poop.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Coming to WSU Soon...


The REAL Islam Revealed

Obsession - Radical Islam's War Against the West

Islam: What the West Needs To Know

Coming to WSU soon..

Note: To put on these events funds are needed. Please support the WSU College Republicans with donations. What ever you can give would greatly be appreciated. PayPal is prefered, click on the WSU Cougar on the right hand side of this site. You can also send donations via PayPal with my email address at dschanze@mail.wsu.edu

Feel free to contact me,

Daniel F Schanze
President of the WSU College Republicans

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Top Palousitics Stories for Second Quarter 2007

Better late than never.

The war in Iraq, the firing of Don Imus, and a really big hog were some of the hottest topics for Palousitics readers during the second three months of 2007.

According to Google Analytics, these were the Top 5 Stories on Palousitics from April 1 - June 30:

1. "OUTSIDE The WIRE: Synopsis" by Daniel F. Schanze
2. Now That's a Big Hog! by Michael
3. Why Don't Elitists Hate Costco Too? by Michael
4. How Does Al Sharpton Get Away With It? by Michael
5. "AWB Urges Lawmakers to Consider Businesses In Washington's Border Counties" by Tom Forbes

"BREO petition takes aim at Moscow, Chaney"

The story below on the BREO petition to stop Moscow's meddling in the corridor you see a link to above was in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

Thus far, the petition has only been advertised on this blog, the Right Mind blog, and in a guest op-ed I did for the Whitman County Gazette a couple of months back. Ultimately, I would like to see a copy printed off and posted in every business in Pullman, Colfax, Uniontown, Rosalia, etc. Feel free to print off the text of the petition yourself, gather signatures and then contact me at palousitics@adelphia.net to turn them in. This is not strictly an online petition and I'd love to get over a 1000 or more signatures before turning it in to the Moscow City Council. We'll see if Queen Nancy has had heard of BREO by then. Oh, and I will have no comment on yet another of Rerun's whinings in today's paper, here or anywhere else. Terry Day did that better than I could in advance yesterday. But just to annoy Reed, you should sign the BREO petition.
Pullman group says city's stance on development in Whitman County is financially motivated

April Coggins wants everyone to know how she feels about proposed development in the Pullman-Moscow Highway corridor.

A Pullman business owner and member of the Businesses and Residents for Economic Opportunity, Coggins was the second person to add her name to an online petition asking that the city of Moscow stop interfering with potential growth across the state line.

"They are trying to stop development in Whitman County. They're clearly trying to stop economic development," she said. The petition is "for people to be able to express their dissatisfaction with Moscow meddling with affairs that are not in their jurisdiction. We would just like to demonstrate that there are people that don't like Moscow interfering in Whitman County business."

BREO is a Pullman-based group that supports free enterprise, business growth and healthy competition in Whitman County.

The petition, titled "Stop meddling in the Pullman-Moscow corridor," claims that Moscow has long been the business hub of the Palouse, taking a hefty chunk of an estimated $158.4 million a year in retail dollars from Whitman County.

Coggins said the BREO-sponsored petition was stimulated by Moscow's protest to a March application by Boise-based Hawkins Companies to transfer water rights to its proposed development along the Pullman-Moscow Highway, just west of the Idaho border. The company requested the transfer of a water right for 120 acre feet, drawing from Pullman, LaCrosse and the South Fork of the Palouse River near Colfax, along with the transfer of 100 acre feet of another water right to the city of Colton.

Moscow and local activist Mark Solomon filed protests over the proposed water transfers with the Washington State Department of Ecology in April. Their protest claimed that water-right transfers with Colton and the proposed development site do not come from the same body of public water. They also argued that the water would deplete wells and threaten the area's aquifer system.

The four water transfer applications were unanimously approved in a Wednesday meeting of the Whitman County Water Conservancy Board. Hawkins Companies must now get formal approval from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Coggins said the board's decision is a step in the right direction for Whitman County development, but Moscow officials still need to mind their own business. She added that Pullman is downstream from Moscow, and "whatever water we would use is water that Moscow will be done with."

The petition states that Moscow's protest has strained the relationship between Whitman and Latah counties and that development in the corridor would provide a balance of tax dollars.

The petition has been online for about a month and currently has 33 listings and comments - some of which are anonymous - from people throughout Whitman and Latah counties.

Coggins said the Hawkins development "is clearly in the jurisdiction in Whitman County. All the water they'll use is in Whitman County."

Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney disagrees.

As neighbors, what happens in Pullman or Whitman County affects Moscow, even if it's in another state, Chaney said. New development will reshape the Palouse region and increased activity on the highway could pose problems with safety, as Moscow emergency crews would be obligated to respond.

"I'm unfamiliar with the BREO group and I haven't seen their petition, but if the gist of it is that they have some suspicion that Moscow's motives are not about retaining our water resource and residents' safety, they are mistaken," she said. "We have issues about our water supply on the Palouse. We have issues about safety. We have issues about sprawl."

Pullman resident Mick Chase added his name to the petition as a way to support the development. He said he knows the state line butts up against Moscow, but is frustrated as to why the city would be so opposed to Whitman County working to retain tax dollars.

"If it was in Moscow, or in Idaho, they would have a right to petition," he said. "I think we need shopping centers. I think we need more places to buy stuff. Now we have a chance to do that (in Whitman County.)

"I'm more for pro-growth," he added. "I think that the corridor is ripe for growth and I think it's the perfect place to grow. I think this place is really ripe to bloom."

Chaney said those who think Moscow's protest efforts are about revenue are wrong.

"Friendly competition is the name of the game," she said. "I don't begrudge Whitman County residents their economic prosperity."

Coggins said protests from Moscow officials are grounded in their desperation to keep money in Moscow.

"We're all supposed to be friends in this - friendly competition," she said. "This (protest) isn't friendly. This is an aggressive move."

Chaney said she has no plans to decrease her efforts, adding that Moscow officials likely will continue to protest the issue with the Department of Ecology until a final decision is made.

'We'll have another time to comment," she said.
The petition can be viewed at www.ipetitions.com/petition/breo/signatures.html.

Friday, July 27, 2007

"PARD whimpers, whines and dissembles"

Funny, I was thinking the other day about Terry Day and Chuck Millham. Now today, Terry has a great column in the Daily News eviscerating TV "PARD Has Clearly Won The PR Battle" Reed.
Will the whimpering, whining and dissembling never end?

No one likes a sore loser and they don't come much worse than the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development.

PARD has lost at every turn in its efforts to block Wal-Mart from exercising its legal right to build a super store in Pullman, and the right of Pullman citizens to decide for themselves where they will shop.

PARD tried to elect anti-Wal-Mart candidates to the City Council. Pullman voters spoke with a strong voice, leaving the City Council in the hands of public servants who believe in the rule of law.

Losing again, PARD sued, and lost yet again.

On PARD's behalf, T.V. Reed continues to disgracefully whimper that hearings weren't truly open. This is double speak. The hearings were fully open. Anti-Wal-Mart speakers were abundant and they were heard loud and clear. I know, because I was there. Everyone, including PARD, was offered every opportunity to present their case.

The hearing examiner concluded, as the law required, that city officials acted properly. Reed's continued claims that hearings weren't truly open are an insult to elected officials and to the community.

PARD pouters are elitists stuck in an economic model that has been outmoded for well more than half a century.

The good old days are nostalgic. I fondly remember going to Beste's Grocery Store in Kennewick, as a small boy, and the owner - who also was the clerk, cashier and bagger - would slice off a sliver from a huge wheel of cheddar cheese on the counter and give it to me. There was sawdust on the floor of the butchery in the back of the store.

We had no progressive PARD to protest when the big, bad national Safeway firm came to town and ran Beste out of business. And - if you can imagine - this giant firm, which took all its profits out of Kennewick, wouldn't even let my family charge its groceries, as Mr. Beste did.

Safeway and other food corporation invaders also contributed to the demise of Sherman's Market, the home-owned store where I obtained my first regular employment, as a 14-year-old "box boy."

The J.C. Penney Company made it increasingly difficult for Mr. Lanter to make a go of his men's clothing store, and local shoe stores were no longer profitable.

National franchise operations ran mom and pop restaurants out of business, including the Stop 'n' Go drive-in that my friends and I frequented.

We don't still live in 1940 or 1950 and most of us don't want to.

Romantic as the memories now seem, business isn't what it used to be, and thank goodness for that.

Today's business models have both positive and negative aspects, but there is no turning back, or even standing still.

PARD wants to force us all to effectively subsidize home-owned businesses by limiting outside competition. But that's not the proper role of government, and most especially not when the voters have spoken for progress.

Local business owners who adjust their business plans to compete with Wal-Mart and other national behemoths will survive, even thrive. Those who rely on PARD to keep competition out of town will eventually die on the vine.
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"Washington Ranks as the Fifth Best State for Business?"

Dino Rossi's Forward Washington Foundation e-newsletter had a great rebuttal to Queen Christine taking undeserved credit for a recent Forbes magazine ranking that had Washington as the fifth best state for business:
As you may have heard, Forbes magazine recently ranked Washington as the fifth best state for business, up from last year's ranking of twelfth. With record profits being recorded by Boeing, Starbucks, Microsoft, and the like, how could anyone argue? If you dig a little deeper, though, some interesting facts emerge.

A more fitting title for the article would be "The Fifth Best State for Big Business." The Forward Washington Foundation is headquartered in Bellevue, a short distance from Microsoft. As such, we see evidence of its success every day in the form of traffic congestion on SR-520 as all those programmers head off to work. All of us, of course, use the products of Washington-based companies every day. Perhaps you saw a Boeing plane fly overhead as you stopped by the local Starbucks on your way to work where you booted up your Windows-based computer that was purchased at Costco. This typical morning is repeated all over the country, and we should all be proud that these companies are headquartered in our great state.

However, a closer examination of the factors that went into Forbes' determination that Washington state is a great place for big business reveals that it is still not a good place for small- and medium-sized businesses. For example, in the Forbes survey, Washington is ranked 33rd in the "Business Costs" category, which is an index based on "the cost of labor, energy and taxes." Other studies have ranked Washington the 14th most expensive state in which to do business and last of all states in small business survival.

Curiously, Washington ranks 32nd in Forbes' "Quality of Life" category, behind such lovely states as Ohio, New Jersey and South Dakota. This ranking was determined by an index based on "schools, health, crime, cost of living and poverty rates." It would be interesting to determine how exactly New Jersey beats Washington in any of those categories, but, for now, we'll have to take their word for it.

The point is that the Forbes ranking, while showcasing some of our state's greatest big companies, neglects to mention the problems facing the vast majority of business owners here. Big businesses may be the backbone of our state, but small businesses are still the lifeblood, and their needs are not being addressed by those in Olympia. If the ranking was of the best states for small business, it's a sure bet we would be ranked far lower.

As Richard Davis of the Association of Washington Businesses stated in a recent op-ed about the Forbes ranking, "even the generally glowing report suggests lingering competitiveness concerns for our state, particularly in costs and regulation. With paid family leave, climate change initiatives, a dramatic rise in state spending, and new health care regulation, the last session of the Legislature has put our desirable ranking at risk."

We couldn't have said it better, Richard.
I have made similar points before when rebutting Caitlin Ross' contention that Washington is "business friendly." here and here. I'll bet these are some of the studies referenced by Dino.

"Proposed resort could bring big bucks to Whitman County"

More on the proposed Rock Lake development from today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News. I'm encouraged by Commissioner Partch's and Finch's attitudes. I agree with Jerry. It seems like a heck of a lot of money. But all the county needs to do is get out of the way and let it happen, especially since there appear to be very few infrastructure impacts.
Development at Rock Lake would cater to high-end clientele

A high-end resort planned for Rock Lake in the northwestern corner of Whitman County could bring economic improvement for the entire county if approved by state and county officials.

Representatives of the The Retreat and Residence Club, which is based in Kirkland, Wash., proposed the resort to the Whitman County commissioners and the Whitman County Planning Division during recent presentations.

Dan Peterson, managing member of The Retreat and Residence Club, said the resort - named The Pinnacles at Rock Lake - will consist of roughly 20 houses and a hotel with 20 to 30 units on 815 to 820 acres of land bordering the lake. The resort also may include a golf course and an airstrip for private planes.

Peterson said the resort will be operated like a timeshare, with the most expensive houses starting at $750,000 per week. He said the location will offer two sizes of houses, the larger nearly 10,200 square feet and the smaller 6,500 square feet. Each house also comes with a yacht, ranging in size from 62- to 130-feet long.

Commissioner Jerry Finch said he would welcome the resort and the economic developments it would bring, but he thought the project sounded rather ambitious.

"I thought it was an interesting presentation and obviously we are interested in pursuing developments in Whitman County," Finch said. "My only thought is it seems like a very ambitious project, but if they go through the process it can only be a positive thing for the county. Ambitious doesn't mean it can't or won't happen."

Finch said if the proposal became reality, the county would benefit from new jobs and property taxes.

"I think anything that you do that creates jobs or secures our tax base is a positive thing," Finch said. "One of the challenges we have here is trying to get enough people to look at the area to develop."

Commissioner Greg Partch said he also would welcome the development.

"It surely would help the county. These are really high-end houses - really high-end," Partch said. "It obviously would be a great shot in the arm to the county's property taxes and local communities."

In addition to high-end housing, the resort plans to construct its own waste and sewage treatment plant and form its own fire district, complete with two fire trucks, full-time trained firemen and a paramedics staff. The resort also plans to have a medevac helicopter. All of the resort's emergency crews and equipment will be available to the county.

"We are not looking to overburden any of the county's facilities," Peterson said. "All of the things we are doing are things that are available to the rest of the community if they are not being utilized by our community - those are the extra things we are going to bring to the neighborhood."

Peterson said the club will move forward with its application to the Planning Department as soon as a few water issues with the Washington State Department of Ecology are resolved.

"As soon as we are assured we have all those things taken care of we will go ahead and do the formal application to the county," Peterson said. "What we have heard so far is very encouraging. Once we are absolutely certain we will pull the trigger."
The $750,000 a week for the house rental must be a typo. Even Donald Trunp wouldn't fork out that kind of cash for one week. $7,500 seems more like it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

How I Spent My Birthday

Here I am at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, strapping into an SR-71 for a Mach 3.2 photo recon run over a North Korean nuclear reactor site to confirm that operations have been shut down.

Okay, not really.

I was actually at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, and thanks to the magic of Photoshop, able to indulge my Walter Mitty fantasy.

That Didn't Take Long

According to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, new Moscow Chamber of Commerce Exectutive Director Dennis O'Keefe has resigned.
Moscow Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dennis O’Keefe is leaving just weeks after he started in the position.

O’Keefe said Wednesday he resigned via e-mail after a chamber board meeting earlier this week at which some board members reportedly raised concerns about him.

O’Keefe said he was not at the meeting and found out about the comments later. He said he felt some of the board members had made comments personally attacking him.

“This was a good decision for me to leave, good for me as an individual,” he said.

O’Keefe said he likely will go back to Boise but hasn’t made any decisions yet.

Chamber president Pam Hays of Hodgin’s Drug issued a statement today confirming O’Keefe’s resignation.

“The Moscow Chamber Board appreciated his efforts in the brief time he was with us,” the release stated.

The chamber will resume looking for a new director, according to Hays.

Hays was not available for further comment.
Why on Earth would O'Keefe want to go back to back to "ruined" Boise?

Hiring an Executive Director for the Moscow Chamber of Commerce is getting to be like hiring a captain for the Titanic. Listen, the Moscow business community isn't stupid. They're not going to sit by and watch their livelihoods be destroyed by a bunch of barking moonbats. This fall's election in Moscow will be the biggest battle for a city since Al Capone faced off against Elliott Ness.

"Pullman residents voice opinions on downtown parking issues"

It's funny how the elitists talk about "smart growth," "dense urban infill," and "walkable downtowns," then when push comes to shove, no one wants to actually implement it. And why should we? They're just some made-up liberal social engineering concepts. I don't know what the answer to the downtown parking problem is. Geography has conspired against downtown. But I can guarantee you it is not some expensive parking garage boondoggle. Did we learn nothing from the River Park Square fiasco in Spokane? I also don't support a moratorium on development downtown, as that will kill all future development there. Unlike Moscow, Pullman can't "afford to be selective."

You can see amply demonstrated why towns grow outward, where there is ample parking available, rather than inward. Remember, downtown Pullman was originally designed for horses, not cars.

And so much for PARD's concept of a downtown business district. We can't even find enough parking spaces for a few condos, much less a large retail store. From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Suggestions range from building parking garage to placing moratorium on downtown development

The Pullman Planning Commission wanted public input, and it got it.

In a meeting Wednesday, the nine-member commission opened the microphone to residents to discuss the issue of downtown parking. More than 50 people packed the chambers at Pullman City Hall to offer their ideas during the nearly three-hour session.

The commission heard a handful of ideas, which included constructing a parking garage on the Gladish Community and Cultural Center property, putting a moratorium on downtown development until a compromise can be reached, creating more handicapped parking spots throughout town and relaxing commercial zone height restrictions so parking garages can be built under residential complexes.

Commission Chairman Stephen Garl admitted the commission has a lot to process before its next meeting, scheduled for Aug. 22.

"We've had a lot of input," he said.

Downtown parking is an ongoing issue for city residents. The issue resurfaced earlier this year when a local developer submitted a conditional use permit to construct a 50-unit, mixed-use development at the intersection of Paradise and High streets. The development would have provided one parking spot per unit. City codes do not mandate that parking be provided with any downtown development zoned C2, or central business.

The project was opposed by Pioneer Hill residents, and the developer eventually retracted the permit application.

A consistent suggestion to resolve parking issues included altering codes in the downtown central business district to mandate one parking spot per bedroom be enforced with all new development. The restrictions, echoed by many residents during the meeting, would hold developers accountable for providing parking, would keep on-street parking free for business patrons and alleviate overflow parking from infringing on residential areas on Pioneer Hill.

Pioneer Way resident Bill Gnaedinger said he doesn't want to stifle downtown growth, but requiring one parking spot per bedroom in each dwelling unit is the only realistic solution.

"I think the code needs to be changed," he said.

High Street resident Jim Hill agreed. He said the trend to create a high density downtown is pushing parking into his neighborhood.

"We'll see parking just boom all over the residential areas," he said. "It really translates into a parking problem for all residents."

Mike Yeats, who recently developed Market Square, a multi-use building on the corner of Grand Avenue and Main Street, said he provided parking for residents of the nine loft apartments even though he wasn't required to do so.

Yeats said developers likely would include parking in their projects, but space is limited in the downtown area.

"If they're able to put in parking, they'll do it because it makes (the living spaces) more desirable," he said.

Yeats projects that if parking requirements are mandated with downtown building projects, developers are likely to build elsewhere.

"That's a pretty aggressive swing from no parking to one per bedroom," he said. "I'm in favor of addressing parking, but I don't think we want to make a sweeping change. It will discourage people from developing downtown."

Developer Mike Monahan said parking issues could easily be solved if zoning codes were changed.

He proposed altering the downtown commercial code to allow residential spaces to be built on top of Main Street-level parking structures. For now, the code limits street-level construction to commercial spaces with residential upstairs. Increasing height restrictions - now capped at 60 feet - would create more space in development projects for parking areas.

"It can be done for the betterment of the public for no cost to them," he said.

Commission Vice Chairman Phillip Ronniger said parking in the downtown area shouldn't be looked at as a problem, but should be part of a larger vision for the city.

"The world is pretty systemic. We fix parking ... but what other problems does that cause? I think we need a vision," he said. "Although parking certainly is a part of this, I keep hearing from many of you that parking isn't all of it."

Pullman resident and property owner Richard Domey said he was grateful for the opportunity to discuss the parking issue publicly, but asked the commission to focus on correcting the city code - and quickly.

Domey suggested a moratorium be put on downtown development until the commission finds a solution to the parking issue. He said such a move would prevent developers from taking advantage of the zone that allows them to build without providing parking and would set a timeline for the commission to address the problem.

"The barn door is still open," he said.

Todd Butler, president of the Pullman Pioneer Hill Association, agreed with the moratorium concept.

"It's an insurance policy that the conversations will be productive," he said.

Yeats opposed a moratorium.

"That's ridiculous," he said. "Don't make snap decisions about what is going to shape our community."

The commission decided to shelf the parking issue until its next meeting. City planning staff will take the time to put the public input in print for the commission's deliberation.

"Board OKs water-rights transfers: Recommendation now goes to Ecology for approval; Hawkins Companies hopes to break ground sometime this fall"

More on the Hawkins water rights victory from today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Notice the stunning arrogance of King Solomon, both in the article, and in the comment he posted on the DN website. I cannot wait until he gets his public comeuppance and is exposed for the primadonna he truly he is.
Hawkins Companies moved one step closer to breaking ground on its proposed 700,000-square-foot retail center just across the state line from Moscow when the Whitman County Water Conservancy Board recommended approval of the company's water-rights transfer requests Wednesday.

The board unanimously approved four water-rights transfer applications from the Boise-based firm, but the Washington State Department of Ecology must still give final approval to the applications.

"This is just one of the steps of several that we have to go through to get the water rights transferred," Hawkins Project Manager Jeffrey DeVoe said. "The decisions of the board are acceptable to us and certainly in line with what we need to have a Lowe's-anchored shopping center in the Palouse."

Water Conservancy Board Chairman Edward Schultz said the Department of Ecology will have up to 45 days to either accept, reject or ask for clarification on the board's recommendation. The board's recommendation becomes a firm decision if Ecology does not take action within the 45-day period.

"What we have done is more or less all the legwork for the Department of Ecology and now they have to make the final decision based on our recommendation," Schultz said.

In March, Hawkins Companies applied to transfer 120 acre feet, or 40 million gallons, of water to its proposed Whitman County development. The proposed transfers would come from around Pullman, LaCrosse and from the South Fork of the Palouse River near Colfax.

The company also applied to transfer 100 acre feet of a 700-acre-feet water right to Colton in exchange for 23 acre feet of water the city was seeking for municipal needs before reaching the deal with Hawkins. However, the board determined the original figures were inaccurate and reduced the water rights to 391 acre feet.

Still, Colton will get its 100 acre feet of water rights if Ecology approves the board's recommendations.

DeVoe said there often are errors in the records used to determine water rights and the board's recommendations are acceptable to the company.

"Part of the process that the conservancy board goes through is whittling out what is fact and what is fiction," DeVoe said. "Sometimes the records are inaccurate, so as they went through it they found some inaccuracies and corrected those."

The city of Moscow and Mark Solomon, a local activist, filed protests over the proposed transfers with the water conservancy board and the Department of Ecology in April. They argued the water-rights transfers involving Colton and the proposed site did not come from the same body of public water. However, the board cited an Ecology analysis and ruled that all of the wells associated with the application were in the basalt formations of the Columbia River Basalt Group and would be withdrawn from the same body of public ground water.

Moscow and Solomon also argued the transfers would deplete area wells and jeopardize a reliable water system.

Solomon said he was disappointed with the board's recommendation.

"We would have preferred a different decision," Solomon said. "I am not surprised, and I hope we will receive a greater degree of review at the Department of Ecology."

Schultz said the board's main goal was to ensure the protection of the public waters at issue and to ensure that the water was used in the most beneficial manner.

"I think what Hawkins is proposing is going to be to the public's benefit and ultimately to the county's benefit," Schultz said. "I think this is a big step for the county in moving forward and developing."

Schultz also said the city of Colton will benefit for many years from the ruling.

"What this does for the town of Colton is set them up for future development and expansion for a minimum of 20 years," Schultz said.

DeVoe said Hawkins Companies hopes to begin construction as early as this fall, and all that is holding up the process is approval from Ecology.

"Once they render that decision we should be off and running at that point," DeVoe said. "It is just one step tonight, and we will continue to design and plan and market and hopefully we will break ground in the fall and get a shopping center here."

July 26, 2007, 1:20 pm Mark Solomon says:

Mr. DeVoe can hope all he wants for a fall groundbreaking but there are some very significant hydrogeological issues that the Whitman Conservancy Board, all well-meaning volunteer non-technical people, deferred judgment on instead punting to the opinion of the Dept. of Ecology hydrogeologist who based his findings on, shall I kindly say, limited research. You can rest either assured (or uneasily) that comments of substance will be submitted to DOE. Any decision of DOE is appeallable to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearing Board, WA's administrative law body for such appeals, where the legal precedents ignored by the DOE hydrologist were established and are abided by. All documents related to the decision can be found on the PBAC website.

Did RFK Jr. Really Comment on This Blog

My column "War by Other Means" has a comment, supposedly from that jackass Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Any way to verfy this Tom?

Go Green, Destroy the Earth

Green techonologies promoted by greenies would despoil the earth. Nothing left to do but go nuclear.

[I]n order to meet the 2005 electricity demand for the United States, an area the size of Texas would need to be covered with wind structures running round the clock to extract, store and transport the energy.

New York City would require the entire area of Connecticut to become a wind farm to fully power all its electrical equipment and gadgets.

You can convert every kilowatt generated directly into land area disturbed, Ausubel said. “The biomass or wind will produce one or two watts per square meter. So every watt or kilowatt you want for light bulbs in your house can be translated into your hand reaching out into nature taking land.”

BREAKING NEWS: Water Conservancy Board approves Hawkins Companies' water-rights transfer requests

From the Moscow-Pullman Daily News website:
Hawkins Companies moved one step closer to beginning work on its proposed 700,000-square-foot retail center just across the state line from Moscow when the Whitman County Water Conservancy Board recommended approval of the company’s water-rights transfer requests Wednesday.

The board unanimously approved four water-rights transfer applications from the Boise-based firm, but the Washington State Department of Ecology must still give final approval on the applications.

Water Conservancy Board Chairman Edward Schultz said the Department of Ecology will have up to 45 days to either accept, reject or ask for clarification on the board’s recommendation. The board’s recommendation becomes a firm decision if Ecology does not take action within the 45-day period.

Hawkins Project Manager Jeffrey DeVoe said the company hopes to begin construction as early as the fall, and all that is holding up the process is approval from Ecology.
This is great news, but look for the shrieking from King Solomon and Queen Nancy to reach high decibels now. And, as we have seen recently, the DOE is not exactly friendly to Whitman County. I expect all sorts of legal wranglings now, paid for by the good taxpayers of Moscow. Stay tuned.

"Why Woolworth Had to Die"

Don Pelton often has chided PARD for espousing an outdated and nostalgic economic model in their desire for a downtown retail district that has no connection to modern economic reality. This article from American Heritage shows that system, as represented by Woolworth, began to die off in 1970. It is also worth noting that as all-powerful as PARD makes Wal-Mart appear, that company too will end up in the dustbin of history. Retailing is a constantly evolving and mercilessly competitive enterprise. But we, the customer, always benefit from that.
Ten years ago today, on July 17, 1997, F. W. Woolworth announced that it was closing the last 400 of its “five-and-ten-cent” stores, laying off 9,200 workers and drawing to a close 117 years as the flagship retailer of downtown America. “Woolworth was 100 years ago what Wal-Mart is today,” the historian Robert Sobel pointed out to The New York Times. It had once seemed to be a store that would last forever.

Frank Woolworth opened his first dry-goods store in 1879, in Utica, New York. His first sale was a five-cent shovel—the most expensive item he had. Later that year he opened a larger store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and with business booming, in 1880 he raised his price ceiling to ten cents, thus ushering the term “five-and-ten” into the American lexicon. In 1910 the Woolworth lunch counter made its debut, at the 14th Street store in Manhattan, and in 1912 the fast-growing business subsumed five competing chains to build an empire of 596 stores nationwide, with $53 million in annual sales (equal to $1.1 billion today).

Woolworth, who died a very rich man in 1919, wasn’t the only entrepreneur to build a retail empire as America urbanized and gained wealth. By the turn of the century, with work hours on the decline and real wages rising, millions of ordinary people were patronizing not only Woolworth but also department stores such as Macy’s and Filene’s, where they could find a wide variety of goods at low prices. Even farm families remote from cities and towns came to rely on the stores. Rural free delivery and parcel post, two services introduced in 1896 and 1913 respectively, enabled anyone to purchase by mail order.

But fundamentally, the rise of chain stores like Woolworth took place in cities. On the eve of the Civil War, less than 20 percent of Americans qualified as “urban,” a category that then included all persons living in towns with a population of at least 2,500. By 1920 more than half of all Americans lived in towns or cities, and the number of people living in cities of at least 8,000 had jumped from 6.2 million to 54.3 million. In this new environment, Woolworth became an anchor of the downtown business district.

It didn’t happen overnight, though. As late as 1930, working-class city dwellers still did most of their shopping at corner groceries and mom-and-pop stores, where they often were allowed generous credit. A survey in 1926 revealed that chains accounted for 53 percent of grocery stores in the upscale Oak Park suburb of Chicago but just one percent of stores in the working-class towns of Joliet and Gary. The Depression changed all that, as mom-and-pops found it harder to extend credit and customers found the lower prices at chains like Woolworth impossible to resist. A survey in 1939 showed that 91 percent of lower-income shoppers were now paying cash for their purchases, having evidently abandoned the old neighborhood store for the cheaper, cash-only chains. Woolworth was a prime beneficiary.

Yet even as the downtown chains spread, the groundwork was being laid for their slow but steady death. In the 1950s and 1960s America’s suburban population grew by more than 40 million, led out of the cities by cheap, quality housing and a massive federal highway construction program. By 2000, shortly after Woolworth boarded up its last stores, an outright majority of Americans were suburbanites. Firms like Woolworth had trouble adapting their cut-rate downtown model to the new suburban shopping centers that sprang up around the country. The company stuck to an updated version of the old five-and-ten even as postwar affluence brought a higher standard of living to many of its customers. So it couldn’t compete with new outlets designed for the shopping centers and malls, like Kmart, Target and Wal-Mart, all three of which came into being in 1962 and offered more household goods at bargain prices. By 1970 those “big-box” budget retailers, to be joined later by new discount franchises like Toys “R” Us, Circuit City, T. J. Maxx, Office Depot, and Best Buy, outsold traditional department stores as well as five-and-tens and rang a final death knell for the downtown business districts that Woolworth had long dominated.

In 1993 Woolworth retrenched, closing 1,000 of its stores. The company shifted resources to its more competitive franchises, like Foot Locker and Champs Sports, and gave the Smithsonian its most valuable piece of memorabilia, the lunch counter where four black students in Greensboro, North Carolina, had staged a landmark civil rights sit-in in 1960. The writing was on the wall. “Closing of the Woolworth stores is long overdue,” a retail consultant remarked in 1997. “Today’s Woolworth store was just not viable.” By then, the company was losing as much as $31.5 million per quarter.

Several weeks after its 1997 announcement, Woolworth auctioned off all its display cases, store fixtures, soda fountains, and furniture. It was the end of an era.
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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Make the other poor liberal die for his country

Really funny (and true) video on YouTube featuring what General Patton's take (a la George C. Scott) on Iraq would be. Where is Ol' Blood and Guts when we need him?

Great Day for Academia

A liberal huckster gets his due.

BOULDER, Colo. — The University of Colorado's governing board on Tuesday fired a professor whose essay likening some Sept. 11 victims to a Nazi leader provoked national outrage and led to an investigation of research misconduct.
Ward Churchill vowed to sue after the Board of Regents' 8-1 vote was announced. "I am going nowhere," Churchill told reporters.
Three faculty committees had accused Churchill of plagiarism, falsification and other misconduct. The research allegations stem from some of Churchill's other writings, although the investigation began after the controversy over his Sept. 11 essay.
"The decision was really pretty basic," said university President Hank Brown, adding that the school had little choice but to fire Churchill to protect the integrity of the university's research.
Churchill's essay mentioning Sept. 11 victims and Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann prompted a chorus of demands for his firing, but university officials concluded it was protected speech under the First Amendment.
Brown recommended in May that the regents fire Churchill after faculty committees accused him of misconduct in some of his academic writing. The allegations included misrepresenting the effects of federal laws on American Indians, fabricating evidence that the Army deliberately spread smallpox to Mandan Indians in 1837 and claiming the work of a Canadian environmental group as his own.
The essay that thrust Churchill into the national spotlight, titled "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens," was not part of the investigation.
That essay and a follow-up book argued that the Sept. 11 attacks were a response to a long history of U.S. abuses. Churchill said those killed in the World Trade Center collapse were "a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire" and called them "little Eichmanns."
Churchill has said Eichmann was a bureaucrat who carried out policies such as the Holocaust that were planned by others but was still responsible for his own actions.
Churchill wrote the essay shortly after the attacks, but it drew little notice until 2005, when a professor at Hamilton College in New York called attention to it when Churchill was invited to speak there.
In the uproar that followed, the regents apologized to "all Americans" for the essay, the Colorado Legislature labeled Churchill's remarks "evil and inflammatory," and then-Gov. Bill Owens said Churchill should be fired.
Churchill remained on the university payroll but had been out of the classroom since spring 2006, first because he was on leave and later because the school relieved him of teaching duties after the interim chancellor recommended he be fired.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Word That Must Not Be Spoken

The Democrats managed to shuffle through their presidential debate without once using the words "Islamic terrorists."

Plus, Joe Biden insults gun owners to the delight of the other Democrats.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Water Under the Bridge

We could have had the Tacoma Narrows bridge handed to us as a gift. Instead, the state paid $700 million and is now charging tolls for the first time.

What a country! Or perhaps I should say, what a state? Washington is celebrating the opening of its brand new, $700 million Tacoma Narrows Bridge. And I must say that, for a state-funded project, $700 million for a mile-long plus bridge sounds pretty frugal. I congratulate our usually wasteful and profligate state government. Considering the estimates bandied about for replacing the 520 floating bridge across Lake Washington, I would have guessed that a new Tacoma Narrows bridge would have cost several times that much.
And one more thing – bridge users are paying tolls. That means that less comes out of my pocket and the greater burden for building and maintaining the bridge will fall upon those who actually use it. I don’t believe that I have ever driven across the old Tacoma Narrows Bridge and I consider it quite likely that I will never use the new one.
The only thing that could have made me happier would be if the bridge were free, there were no tolls and, as a bonus, the northwest power grid were flooded with great bushels full of megawatts of clean, green electricity.
Am I dreaming? Been smoking something, Costello, you might ask? No and no. And no to any other speculations regarding any altered mental conditions. What I describe above was in fact the deal that was offered to the state 7 years ago when plans for replacing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge were on the drawing board.
A Vancouver, B.C. company, Blue Energy Canada, approached former governor Gary Locke’s office 6 years ago and offered to build a brand spanking new Tacoma Narrows Bridge in exchange for the rights to harness the electrical generating potential of the powerful tidal currents that flow through the narrows daily.
This was no pie-in-the-sky proposal. The project would have relied upon proven technologies that were widely in use in a number of other countries. All the state had to do to get a free bridge and oodles more carbon dioxide free electricity without splitting an atom or a salmon fingerling was to say “yes.”
Gary Locke said “no.”
Gary Locke’s energy advisor, David Danner, declared, “I don't think the proposal is ready for prime time. There's (sic) going to be transmission issues. There's (sic) going to be shoreline issues. There's (sic) going to be (State Environmental Policy Act) issues."
If anyone ever wonders why I can’t take anthropogenic global warming seriously, it’s because liberals don’t take it seriously themselves. Whether it’s Ted Kennedy and John Kerry opposing wind farms within sight of Martha’s Vineyard, the playpen for America’s most prominent limousine liberals, or Al Gore burning more coal in a month heating one of his three mansions than most people burn in a year, the left simply doesn’t treat energy seriously. They demand hair shirt solutions for those of us who can’t afford to buy carbon offsets, while dismissing legitimate solutions, such as tidal power or nuclear energy.
And, in the case of the Tacoma Narrows, not even a free bridge and extravagant promises of environmental responsibility would close the deal. There were no “crush points” in the design that would have killed fish. If a whale or a seal approached, sensors would detect it and shut down the system until the animal moved away.
“Anything larger than a beach ball” would shut the system down promised the company’s president and CEO, Martin Burger.
No deal.
As a consequence, the state is out $700 million and drivers have to fork over between $1.75 and $3.00 for the privilege of crossing the bridge. And, the northwest power grid has 440 fewer megawatts (enough to nourish 1/3 of Seattle’s power demands) to distribute or sell to other regions.
Ironically, the electricity-generating potential of the Tacoma Narrows was rediscovered two years ago, when the city of Tacoma commissioned a study by the Electric Power Research Institute.
"We want to become the preeminent utility when it comes to tidal and wave generation. I’m optimistic we will be on the leading edge," said Tacoma Power superintendent, Steve Klein.
If I were in charge, every toll receipt would have a reminder of Gary Locke’s dismissal of the free bridge. One could say that it’s just water under the bridge. But it’s worth recalling the fecklessness of the past when deciding whom to cast votes for in the future.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

"Reed is confused"

Don Pelton joins in the fun of rebutting TV Reed in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Wow! What wonderful news from T.V. Reed and his "Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development," raving about the new Pullman-Moscow Building Supply Store in Pullman. Strangely, this is news about something no one else seems to have heard about.

Reed tells of the spectacular service and quality of this locally owned business that will free us from the talons of evil Wal-Mart.

The trouble is Reed's whole account is nothing but fiction. It never happened. There is no new Pullman-Moscow Building Supply store on Bishop Boulevard next door to Wal-Mart, but Reed and his PARD group have spent years using the courts to block Wal-Mart and the very business he now raves about. The proposed PMBS store has an announced size of 140,000 square feet and actually sits closer to the cemetery than Wal-Mart. Moreover, the PMBS store is dependent upon the construction of Wal-Mart. Anyway, Reed tells us we can look forward to a wonderful PMBS store whenever his own legal stalling is finally ended by the courts.

Perhaps Reed has confused the recently opened Henry's Ace Hardware store with Pullman-Moscow Building Supply. Indeed, Ace Hardware is a wonderful addition to the Pullman business community. But there is a mega difference between a hardware retail business and a building supply firm and a Wal-Mart department store.

Donald D. Pelton

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Quote of the Day Redux

"We can afford to be selective here."
- Queen Nancy, as quoted in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News on whether Moscow was anti-growth. That statement is likely to be the epitaph for Chaney's political career and should be inscribed on a Whitman County monument to Her Majesty at the Hawkins Companies development in the corridor.

"Ag zone changes yet to show in building permits"

I hate so say I told you so, but after comments made by Whitman County Commissioner Greg Partch that developers were "lined up waiting on the passage of the rural residential zoning ordinance," somebody has to call BS.

From yesterday's Whitman County Gazette:
When county commissioners approved changes to the county's rural residential zoning ordinance April 30, they hailed the revisions for opening up rural Whitman County to new housing developments while protecting the area's unique scenery.

While restrictions on building in viewsheds and buffers from county roads have protected skylines from being intruded on by houses, measurable growth has yet to be seen.

Assistant Cunty Planner Alan Thomson said there was a rush on permit applications before the code was officially changed. Residents looking to build in the ag zone would still have to wait three years for ground to come out of farming use.

County Planner Mark Bordsen said his office has seen a number of applications for Rural Housing Certificates on ground that would have had to be idle under the old code since the changes went into effect May 15.

However, Thomson said, those applications have not led to a significant spike in building permit applications.

"It's steady, and I think it will stay steady," said Thomson. "I don't think we'll ever have too much growth."

Overall county building permits are up this year, with 102 issued through June. In contrast, the planning department issued its 100th building permit on July 12 of last year.

However, most of those permits have been issued for workshops and toolsheds.

Of the 102 building permits, seven were for new homes, 2 below last year, but on par with the amount issued in each of the previous two years.

County building inspector Dan Gladwill said more applications for building permits have been made as of late, but speculated that might be attributed to the avaialbility of contractors finishing up spring jobs.

The amount of building permits issued by the county spiked after commissioners approved changes to zoning regulations that allowed for cluster zones in the ag district.

"I have seen some doozies of houses," said Thomson, who noted one building permit application included plans for seven bathrooms.
You can't fool Father Time, Mother Nature, and the immutable laws of economics. You can't "free something up" with additional regulations. This is a lesson that may unfortunately cost Commissioners Partch and Finch their jobs next year.

Speaking of big houses, the Gazette had a front page story on a developer who is considering a high-end, world class resort on Rock Lake, out past Malden. The developer's staff met with the county commissioners to get a feel for how the project would be received and felt "everyone seemed receptive to the idea."

Hmmmmmm. With Commissioner Partch saying, "This is the only lake in Whitman County. And it's also one of the only lakes in the state without housing on it," you have to wonder how the developer came to that conclusion.

The commissioners have been touting turning Whitman County into a tourist destination and encouraging new housing development for what seems like forever. Now here it is, knocking on the door. This project could add millions in valuation to the property tax rolls, increase retail sales, and create 200 new jobs. The development would have its own hotel, restaurant, fire station, airport, beach, boat docks, and possibly even an 18-hole golf course and promises to be as self-sufficient as possible. If the commissioners fumble this ball, you have to question their commitment to growth and development.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Quote of the Day

"[Boise was] ruined and overrun by too much development."
- Dennis O’Keefe, new executive director of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce, quoted in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News, on Money magazine's 2006 #8 Best Place to Live, Forbes magazine's 2005 #1 Best Place for Business and Careers, and Inc. magazine's 2005 #2 Best Place to Do Business.

With an attitude like that, O'Keefe will obviously not have the conflicts with Queen Nancy that previous executive director Paul Kimmell did.

What's on the shelves in China's Wal-Marts?

What's on the shelves in China's Wal-Marts?

Forget about the frozen food and bulk toilet paper. Wal-Mart shoppers here are more likely to find live crabs, 'black chicken' . . . and a blow-dry.

By Suzanne McGee, MSN Money

SHENZHEN -- In search of hairy crabs, pork-floss buns and compact towels that will dry easily in the open air, this southern boomtown's migrant workers and up-and-coming entrepreneurs flock to Wal-Mart's new Supercenter.

No longer do they go from one tiny storefront to the next, selecting vegetables at one and, at the next, a duck hanging from a hook above the sidewalk. Instead, they are discovering the concept of one-stop shopping.

"The produce here is clean; I know it doesn't have pesticides, and the quality is more reliable," says one middle-aged shopper, browsing through stacks of carefully wrapped organic Chinese greens. "Besides," the customer adds, "it's a joy to shop here."

This Supercenter opened its doors on the outskirts of Shenzhen just a year ago. Today it is bustling with customers. If Wal-Mart builds it, it seems, Chinese shoppers will come: This is Wal-Mart's fourth store in Shenzhen and one of 78 outlets the retailing giant operates in China, where sales growth hovers at nearly 30% annually, compared with a mere 2% or so in the United States, according to analysts. Shawn Gray, vice president of operations for Wal-Mart China, says the company is hunting for three more Supercenter sites in Shenzhen alone.

Chinese customers say Wal-Mart makes shopping for daily necessities downright pleasant. Worried about getting your goods home on a bicycle? No problem: Wal-Mart's shuttle buses travel up to three miles to ferry customers and their shopping bags. Wondering what to do with your grandchild while you stock up on groceries? There's a supervised children's playground available for a nominal cost, right next to the toy and book department.

But customers say it's what's on the shelves -- and the novelty of the shopping experience itself -- that brings them back to the store, sometimes as often as daily. Here, a look at what's in store.

Makeup and makeovers: After spending decades in look-alike padded jackets and boxy Mao suits, Chinese women have become fashion addicts. But many are still trying to figure out what styles suit them and which skin care and cosmetics products they should use. To help them out, Wal-Mart's cosmetics counters here are staffed with a team of "beauty technicians." "We tested taking them out, and our (cosmetics) sales dropped 40%," says Gray.

But Wal-Mart goes a step further. Just beside its cosmetics counters are rows of beauty-salon chairs in front of mirrors. For about $1.50, women can have their hair washed and blown dry into a style of their choice. And after paying for their purchases, they can arrange for additional services -- from manicures and pedicures to hair extensions -- with an entrepreneurial woman who offers her services through the store. "She has been a fantastic partner since the day we opened," Gray enthuses.

Portable closets, cots and chairs: Chinese homes are relatively tiny -- 750 square feet would be considered large -- so space is at a premium. That's why Wal-Mart stocks plenty of folding chairs. "Going into the holiday season, (shoppers) will purchase a lot of these for visiting family and friends," Gray says.

Closet space is almost nonexistent, so Wal-Mart offers zipper-front portable closets. And don't expect big multipacks of paper towels -- most homes are too small to stash extras.

One of Wal-Mart's compact best sellers? A folding cot that's a favorite with overworked executives who want to nap in their offices after lunch. The folding cots are relatively expensive at $12, but Wal-Mart is selling 40 a week.

LCD TVs: China's workers earn far less than their North American counterparts -- a salary of $300 a month makes you a consumer, and $1,000 a month puts you in the middle class -- but they are eager to spend on electronics, so Wal-Mart stocks dozens of the latest models of LCD TVs. Outside the store's front door, a Chinese manufacturer, Skyworth, has set up a festive tent, where salespeople use microphones to hype the rebate offered to any local citizen turning in an old-style TV, however decrepit, in exchange for a new Skyworth model.

"Black chicken" and instant "hot pots": In the ground-floor food department, most of the chicken breasts are charcoal-colored, the meat coming from a Chinese breed. "It is good for ladies' skin," explains the store's general manager, Stanley Liu. There is also more of this black chicken for sale than beef; the Chinese haven't developed much taste for beef, Liu explains, particularly in the south, where grazing land is almost nonexistent. Nor are they keen on frozen products. Aside from a few freezer cases stocked with dumplings and ice cream, virtually all the food on offer here is fresh. The Chinese version of a frozen lasagna? A package containing all the ingredients needed for a made-from-scratch hot pot, a common Chinese dish -- from the fresh pork and vegetables right down to the spice package. "Dump all that in the boiling water, you'll have a nice hot pot or pork soup," explains Gray.

But shoppers are coming to understand organics, particularly since the store began organizing bus tours to local organic farms. "It was so new, it helped explain the concept of chemical-free and organic," Gray said.

Live shrimp and hairy crabs. Chinese shoppers don't want to buy dead fish, even if impeccably displayed on beds of ice. They prefer to select their fish and seafood while it's still alive. That's why Wal-Mart's extensive fish section contains more fish tanks than display counters -- and small nets to bag your selection. Young shoppers are eager to help. "We come here every day; he likes to help select the fish," says one mother of her toddler son. The hairy crabs, a seasonal delicacy from Zhejiang province, cost a whopping $35 per pound -- but still sell well, Gray says. And a crowd surrounds the depleted shrimp tank, where shoppers avidly seek out the most aggressive and fastest-moving shrimp for their evening meal.

Tasting tea. Coffee giant Starbucks has made inroads in China, but at Wal-Mart, it's all about tea -- specifically, green tea, which consumers can sample before buying. "In China, we have a tea culture, and I get to learn about that while working here," says a young woman dressed in traditional Chinese robes. She swishes water through the tea leaves in an earthenware pot until the brew is just right. The tea is then decanted into a glass (sanitized after each customer has used it) for the customer to try. About two-thirds buy the tea they try, the associate says.

Pork floss and red-bean buns: Forget raisin bread and doughnuts. In China, favorite bakery treats include red-bean bread and pork-floss buns. Pork floss? It's basically dried and shredded meat, Gray explains. "They take a (pastry) or a bun, split the top and dip it in a kind of sweet mayonnaise, then dunk that into a container of the pork floss." Wal-Mart's bakers, and butchers, work behind glass windows, so shoppers can see them in action.

Safety lessons: Wal-Mart wants to give the Chinese consumer a total experience, whether it's offering a circle of toddlers lessons in road safety or good manners, or providing a picnic spot where customers can take their just-purchased takeout dinners (which include two meat dishes, rice and vegetable soup).

The goal? To capture a growing share of a market that exhibits more purchasing power with each passing year. "This is a great market," explains Gray. "The dormitories will be torn down and replaced with high-rise apartment buildings, and the income level of our customers will keep rising."

Published June 29, 2007

"Liberals wired for stupidity: Look at Cambridge’s dim bulbs"

Tuesday, Michael Graham of the Boston Herald had the best editorial I've read in a while:

Could it be that the problem with Cambridge is that liberals are just too darn smart?

I know liberals are smart because they constantly tell me so. Unlike, say, conservative Christians - described by the Washington Post as “poor, uneducated and easy to command” - Massachusetts liberals are brilliant, intellectual and competent.

Don’t believe it? Just ask them.

When a 2005 study found that 72 percent of professors at U.S. universities consider themselves “liberals,” some suggested an anti-conservative bias on campus.

Nonsense, replied liberals like Harvard professor Julie Reuben.

She told the Harvard Crimson that it was simply natural for the well-educated to lean to the left.

Harvard: Too Smart For Diversity!

But if you liberals are so smart, why do you do so many things that are so, well, dumb?

I’m not just talking about the big, embarrassing stuff like supporting the Soviet Union and getting modern economic policy entirely wrong. I mean the basics, like “Don’t pay the electrician $100,000 to change the light bulbs.”

As the Boston Herald reported yesterday, the city of Cambridge (“Gateway to Stalingrad”) has more than 180 government employees taking home $100,000 or more in tax dollars each year - including the $104,000 municipal electrician.

Overseeing this gaggle of overpaid government sycophants is a deputy city manager ($201,000 per year), a city manager ($245,000) and the highest-paid part-time mayor in America, Ken Reeves, at $92,000 plus a $40,000 annual travel budget.

Cambridge city government is just one set of $6,000 shower curtains away from the Tyco scandal, and they aren’t even embarrassed by it.

“We’re demanding livable wages and we made the decision to practice what we preach,” Cambridge City Councilor Anthony Galluccio told the Herald.

But $132,000 for a part-time job? Where is that a “livable” wage? Maybe in Dubai.

It’s the same in nearby Newton, where liberal politicians backed by a liberal electorate are building a new $154 million high school. That works out to a modest (or perhaps I should say “livable”) $81,053 per student.

Just a few miles north of Newton, it’s not uncommon for the knuckle-draggers in New Hampshire to build their high schools for one-tenth that price, those uneducated fools.

Why, those Granite State rubes probably shop at Wal-Mart and drink tap water, too!

Wal-Mart is, of course, corporate enemy number one for activist liberals, because it commits the sin of making life easier for poor people without punishing the rest of us.

As Jason Furman of New York University found, Wal-Mart saves low-income families more in food costs than the federal government provides each year in food stamps.

Their employees do all this for far less than $100,000 a year. Not surprisingly, Wal-Mart isn’t welcome in Cambridge.

And as for the tap water, well, you also don’t find a lot of people at Wal-Mart “smart” enough to pay $3 for something you can get out of your sink for free.

Fiji, Iceland Spring, Voss - you’ll find bottles of these premium H2O’s in the cup holders of Toyota hybrids rolling through Brookline and Beacon Hill, not next to the gun rack in a pick-up on the western Pike.

My father was far from Harvard educated, but he would have beaten me with a 2-by-4 if he caught me paying cash money for 16 ounces of filtered tap water.

“For six bucks, there better be somethin’ in here that’ll kill a fish!” he’d insist.

Then again, my redneck father wouldn’t pay Cambridge salaries or Newton construction prices, either.

Who would?

Only liberals, who are so brilliant, so intellectual, so incredibly well-educated that they’ve managed to outsmart everybody.

Including themselves.

HT: Uncle Bubba

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This is Golf on Steroids

I always suspected that golfers were juiced. Now, Gary Player says it's true.

"Whether it's HGH, whether it's Creatine or whether it's steroids, I know for a fact that some golfers are doing it," he said.

Asked how he knew for certain, he said one golfer told him.

"I took an oath prior to him telling me — I won't tell you where — but he told me what he did, and I could see this massive change in him," Player said. "And somebody else told me something, that I also promised I wouldn't tell, that verified others had done it."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rebutting the Rerun

I'm sure many of you were wondering if I would respond to TV Rerun's latest nonsensical letter to the editor. Well, I did in today's Daily News.
PARD's logic is flawed

T.V. Reed has descended from Sinai once more (Opinion, July 16). As usual, he has it all wrong.

The objections to the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development are not that it is "anti-growth." Reed's arrogant litany of projects that PARD has "supported" and "opposed" reveal the truth. Pullman citizens oppose PARD because the group is a tiny, unelected body of academics who seek to impose their elitist tastes upon the whole community. We have a democratically elected City Council that administers the planning and development process through various regulations and committees. Yet after losing a City Council election and two appeals mandated by law, PARD continues a lawsuit costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars that has nothing to do with either responsibility or development. The real issue is that no one will kowtow to a bunch of self-important know-it-alls and they are throwing a temper tantrum.

I'm sure the owner of Moscow-Pullman Building Supply is rejoicing that a Ph.D. in sociology has endorsed his plan for an expanded store on Bishop Boulevard. Reed offers no explanation of how a 220,000-square-foot store is more "overwhelming" than a 140,000-square-foot one, nor does he offer any evidence of how Wal-Mart would create "huge traffic problems" and "impinge" on the cemetery and Moscow-Pullman Building Supply, located right next to Wal-Mart, would not. Reed also conveniently neglected to mention that the reason Duane Brelsford Jr. chose the new Moscow-Pullman Building Supply location is because, "Everybody wants to be by Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart's the fly paper."

It is interesting to note that of the projects that PARD has "opposed," all came to quick fruition except for Wal-Mart. I suppose high-powered environmental lawyers hired by labor unions are not interested in strip malls, old movie theaters, or housing developments, "responsible" or not. Without this backing, PARD would be as irrelevant as they are annoying.

Tom Forbes

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Summer of Love Survived, Sadly

This is a great commentary by Dick Feagler in the Spokesman-Review on July 17, 2007. It bemoans the sadness that has become us.

Forty years ago, my editors put me on a plane and shipped me off to San
Francisco to live with the hippies. I always had great out-of-town luck. So,
on the ride, I met a nice, middle-class couple who were flying out to meet their
son. He was a drummer for a band called Big Brother and the Holding Company. He
met his parents at the airport.
"You want to know the scene?" he said. "Come with me tonight. We got a gig at the Fillmore."
That's how I entered the Summer of Love – a summer that changed America.
He took me backstage to meet the band's lead singer. This woman struck me as totally obnoxious. My idea of a lead singer was Doris Day. This woman, who was grungy, sat at a dressing table, patting Southern Comfort whiskey on her face. Her name, she grudgingly told me, was Janis Joplin.
When the show started, I left. It was too loud. I came from the era of Sinatra, and Janis Joplin came from a new age of screech.
The next few weeks were equally startling. The Summer of Love was a summer of sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and dirty words. It was so foreign to me, I was sure it couldn't last.
Everybody used dope. The only question was, what kind.
I smoked some. I thought I had to. I took my first toke in a fraternity hovel where the bathroom was wallpapered in tinfoil and the housemother was busy baking organic bread. But I got bored and decided to go home.
A bus came along and I got on it. After about an hour, it dawned on me that it might not be the right bus. I pulled the cord and got off. I had no idea where I was. I flagged a cab and he took me back to Union Square.
I went into a bar and ordered a gin gimlet. The bartender wouldn't serve me. "You're stoned," he said. "I am not," I said. "I only had a couple of cigarettes."
Next morning, I called the city desk. "I turned on to pot last night," I told the city editor.
"My God," he said. "Get out of there right now."
When I got home, I wrote a four-part series about Haight-Ashbury. It got a lot of response. The saddest response was from parents who said: "Did you run into my daughter, Denise? She ran away from home. Did you see her?"
When I wrote that series, I was 28 years old.
So I thought the Summer of Love was just a fad. I was sure the screeching music wouldn't last. The summer of sex, dope, rock 'n' roll and dirty words would be left behind when these tie-dye kids grew up and joined the mainstream. My mainstream.
I have learned since, to my dismay, that those kids dragged their adolescence with
them, tugging it along like a security blanket and dragging the rest of us with it.
Sex used to be private; now it's public, in the commercials on TV. Drugs?
Well, there are two kinds – the illegal ones and the Viagra type that guarantees
Superman-like instant erections. Rock 'n' roll? When's the last time you saw
a violin in a commercial – even a commercial that wants to lull you to sleep.
And dirty language? It's commonplace. The words we never used to say
because we thought they were gross come regularly out of the TV, for our
children to hear, and find their way into music. Music without melody.
I didn't know it then, but the Summer of Love was a summer that changed the
culture. The kids – the most pampered generation we had produced for a long time – made American music unmusical and American speech obscene. They erased from the American scene any idea of civility or seemliness.
They dealt us today.
And now they're stuck with tomorrow.

Did I hit a Nerve?

After reading TV Reed's latest letter to the editor, I have to wonder if that was a direct response to my last post PBS Construction Ground Breaking.

Responsible development

Of the many lies told about the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development, surely the silliest is that PARD is "anti-growth." Over the past three years, PARD has supported 18 significant commercial developments and opposed a grand total of two (Wal-Mart and the Crimson Village strip mall built on a flood plain). Of the more than 20 new apartments and housing developments, PARD has opposed a grand total of one (a development on a wetlands right next to the high school). We also opposed one conditional use permit, for the Cordova, because it meant less development, favoring instead a plan to develop a series of shops around a renovated theater.

Responsible development is not zero development. It is just what is says it is - development that responsibly contributes to the economic, environmental and cultural health of the community.

And right now we have before us an excellent example of what a responsible new commercial development looks like - the expanded Moscow-Pullman Building Supply. It is also everything the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter is not. This is a locally owned, longstanding business that already has given much to the community. It is a business known for excellent service, fair prices, and for treating its employees well. It is a store of significant but not overwhelming size that, unlike Wal-Mart, will not compete unfairly with other local businesses. It fills the need for development on Bishop Boulevard without creating huge traffic problems or impinging on our cemetery. It addresses our loss of business to Moscow by addressing the one shortcoming of the current store - its limited stock.

MPBS's plan shows we can expand businesses from a local base in ways that address our need for more choices without in the process destroying what we have already.

This development offers a model of how we might continue to develop our town. But as part of a rapidly, haphazardly growing Bishop-Grand area, it also makes clear that we need a series of truly open public meetings to plan for the optimal, responsible growth of Pullman.

T.V. Reed


"New Wal-Mart a big boost for Bush River Road"

Here's some news about you won't read TV Reed in a letter to the editor. From the July 15 issue of the The State (Columbia, SC)
’The new Bush River Road Wal-Mart Supercenter has given that area a much needed retail boost.

More than a dozen shops and eateries have opened nearby since the Wal-Mart near the Interstate 26 exit opened in May.

Even competitors are impressed.

“It should bring more customers,” said Stan Gomes manager of a Kmart store a mile away on Arrowwood Road.

Local retail analysts have not considered the Bush River area near the Richland and Lexington county lines a prime location for retailers or shoppers in recent years.

Before Wal-Mart, the 225,000-square-foot Bush River Mall sat in its place. The mall’s last tenant, a Target store, closed in 1998.

And Dutch Square Center, just a mile away from the new Wal-Mart, lost its spot as a top shopping destination beginning in the 1970s when newer malls opened in faster-growing areas of Columbia. A center manager said in May that she hoped the new Supercenter would re-energize nearby merchants.

All along Bush River, from its intersection with Broad River Road to Outlet Pointe Boulevard, traffic has been in a steep decline for the past decade.

Daily car counts in front of Dutch Square Center have fallen 40 percent since 1997, according to research from commercial real estate firm Colliers Keenan.

And the median income for households within two miles of the Wal-Mart that was 15 percent above the metro norm in 1980 is now 13 percent less, according to the Central Midlands Council of Governments.

Little new retail construction has come to the Broad River Road and Saint Andrews areas because they had few desirable sites, said Ben Johnson, research manager for the Grubb & Ellis office in Columbia.

The area’s most active shopping centers had been the Boozer Shopping Center and the Colonial Village across from Dutch Square, according to Colliers Keenan researcher Ryan Hyler. These recently updated centers, which house a mix of independent shops and restaurants, are at or near full occupancy but are too small to attract major retailers.

“So having the Wal-Mart move in,” Johnson added, “is a really good sign.”

Last year, the remaining buildings of the Bush River Mall were torn down to make way for a 203,819-square-footWal-Mart Supercenter.

“A lot of people were glad to see the old vacant buildings gone,” said Dee High manger of the new Wal-Mart.

The Supercenter has helped attract nearly a dozen new shops and an eatery into retail center that Wal-Mart anchors — including Cato’s, It’s Fashion! Dots Fashion, Shoe Show, Sally’s Beauty Supply Store and Tokyo Grill.

Plus, the long-vacant space of a former Office Max store that neighbored the Kmart on Arrowwood has been leased to Remington College, a Florida-based technical school.

And there’s talk that Dutch Square Center could go through a major makeover next year.

In recent years, the area “was truly an underserved retail market," said Andrew Simmons with the Central Midlands Council of Governments.

Despite lower traffic numbers, Wal-Mart saw promise in the Bush River Road area because the area’s residential growth, said Ryan Hyler, director of research and marketing for Colliers Keenan in Columbia.

The population within a two-mile radius of the Wal-Mart store on Bush River Road is up 8 percent since 2000 to 30,000 people, said Hyler, who used U.S. Census data. That’s about the same growth as the Columbia metro area overall.

“There is a dense population, (and) it’s your grocery-store type,” said Hyler, referring to the area’s mix of older adults and families.

Just right for Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest grocer, to arrive and perk up the area, he said.
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