Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, December 03, 2007

PARD's Cost to Pullman So Far: Glenn Johnson Edition

You have to love Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson's most aggressive public stance on Wal-Mart thus far. From last Tuesday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:

Appellate court to consider Wal-Mart arguments; Court will hear Pullman case Dec. 19 in Spokane

A December court date has been scheduled to continue the argument of whether a Wal-Mart Supercenter will be built in Pullman.

Proponents and opponents of the retail giant will be allowed to argue their case Dec. 19 in Washington's Division III Court of Appeals in Spokane.

T.V. Reed, a member of the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development - the group that in 2005 appealed the city's decision to allow Wal-Mart to locate on Bishop Boulevard in Pullman - said he's pleased a court date has finally been set.

Reed acknowledged that the process has been long, but said the wait is worth it.

"The legal process is slow and it should be," he said. "There should not be a rush in judgement - it's part of the process."

Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson sees the situation differently.

"We hope it's the end," he said. "(The appeal has) delayed a legitimate business to come into the community. We hope the matter is solved once and for all."

Wal-Mart announced plans to build a store on Bishop Boulevard in October 2004. PARD appealed the city's approval of the retail corporation's environmental checklist and site plan.

The group's appeal was dismissed in October 2005 when Whitman County Superior Court Judge David Frazier considered the arguments of attorneys for Wal-Mart, the city and PARD on issues such as traffic and the proposed store's effect on the local economy. PARD then took the case to appellate court.

The appellate judges originally were scheduled to look over the PARD appeal based solely on briefs and previous court documents during a hearing Oct. 19 in Spokane. The case was rescheduled after PARD's Seattle-based attorney asked that oral arguments be permitted.

Pullman City Attorney Laura McAloon said each side - proponents and opponents - will be allowed 15 minutes for argument. No new information is allowed.

McAloon said she will be present Dec. 19, and will share the 15-minute proponent window with Wal-Mart attorneys. The case is one of a handful of appeals to be heard starting at 11 a.m.

McAloon said although the appeal is "a fairly uncomplicated land-use issue," she doesn't expect the judges to render a decision until 2008.

Washington Wal-Mart Public Affairs Manager Jennifer Holder said store officials hope the case soon ends in their favor.

"This has been an exhaustive appeal," she said. "We're hoping this is it. We've had strong support from the community and from the local businesses ... This should be put to rest."

Holder said potential customers throughout the Palouse have voiced support for the store, so officials aren't going to give up on locating a store in Pullman.

"Our customers are waiting for us to get through these legal hurdles," she said. "We are not walking away from Pullman. It's a key market for us."

Reed said PARD attorneys did not ask that an injunction be placed on construction and he wonders why the national retail chain hasn't finished what they've started.

"Nothing we've done has stopped them from building," he said. "That's their legal right and they haven't exercised that right."

Holder said store officials could have authorized building, but they "generally do not like to begin the construction process when we have legal matters pending."

Reed said he's unsure if PARD will take the issue to the next level - the state Supreme Court - if judges deny the appeal.

"That would be a group decision," he said. "We'll see what happens."

Johnson said Pullman loses upwards of $500,000 in sales tax each year that a Wal-Mart exists in Moscow and not Pullman. With a tight city budget in the coming year, keeping sales tax dollars in Pullman will be essential.

A Wal-Mart in Moscow "doesn't help our parks. It doesn't help the police. It doesn't help our streets," he said. "It helps Moscow but it doesn't help Pullman."
Anonymous cretin "Avowed Walmart Hater" posted this comment on the Daily News website:
Over 10,000 people in the community have signed a boycott petition against putting a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman....it's too bad the mayor of Pullman is welcoming them in. Any tax gains that Wal-Mart brings in are sure to be offset in the long run by the businesses they destroy, the jobs that are lossed or subsequently replaced by poorer-paid Wal-Mart jobs with no health benefits, and with the tax burden that Wal-Mart will create by foisting the halthcare costs of its employees onto state-sponsored programs and the emergency room of the Pullman Regional Hospital. It's too bad such myopia is being displayed in a college town.
Guess what, coward? Mayor Johnson was up for reelection this year. He ran unopposed AGAIN. With your legendary 10,000 signature petition, why didn't TV Reed, Chris Lupke or one of you other PARD "heroes" run for mayor? The "majority" could have swept you into office. Is it because people who live in Perth, Australia can't vote in Pullman? Or maybe it's because the last time a PARDner ran for city office, she lost by nearly 20 points?

Myopia or will of the majority? I think we both know the answer to that question. You and your elitist chums are just something disgusting about to be wiped off the bottom of Pullman's shoe.

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