Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Pullman Wal-Mart decision months away; Court of appeals hears final arguments from giant retailer, PARD"

Today's "news story" in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News about the Wal-Mart appeal hearing reads more like a PARD press release.

The reporter let stand, without any rebuttal whatsoever, propagandistic statments from PARD's union hired gun overexaggerating the amount of time that it will take to reach a decision, telepathically reading the judges' minds, conjuring frightening images of dead school children in the streets, and the outrageously false assertions that Wal-Mart will somehow steal business from non-existent Mom-and-Pop retail stores and that sales tax revenue will not increase. But my favorite quote is when Bricklin, who lives in Seattle, arrogantly states, "I think the citizens of Pullman deserve more than that." What we deserve, Mr. Bricklin, is the truth behind who is paying your fees and forcing the REAL taxpayers in Pullman to waste our hard-earned money on this fight.

And at last TV Reed finally 'fesses up about the whole Bishop Blvd. location red herring when he said: "I can't imagine a worse site to build on, but I can't imagine many better, either."

Sure, Chuck Maduell (of the Davis Wright Tremaine law firm - what happened to McCullough Hill?) had nothing to say. But what about contacting the city or the grassroots group in Pullman backing Wal-Mart, Businesses & Residents for Economic Opportuniy (BREO). Certainly there was time to do that. Speaking of the city, why didn't Laura McAloon present oral arguments? That's something that could have been covered in the article besides giving PARD even more space to spout their lies.

Oh well. Luckily, biased reporters don't decide if we get Wal-Mart, the Court of Appeals does. And I am confident they will make the right decision. Let us remember the words of Epicetus:
Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig. I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.
From today's Daily News:
SPOKANE - Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development attorney Dave Bricklin said it could take three to six months before a decision is rendered by the Division III Court of Appeals regarding Wal-Mart's plans to build a super store in Pullman.

Bricklin and Wal-Mart attorney Chuck Maduell voiced their final arguments regarding the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter on Bishop Boulevard in front of a panel of three judges in Spokane on Wednesday. Each side was allowed 15 minutes and no new information was permitted, as only facts outlined in previously submitted briefs could be argued.

Bricklin said he hopes the judges' silence during the 30-minute proceedings were a good sign.

"They didn't say much, but maybe that's because they favor our side," he said.

Wal-Mart announced plans to build on Bishop Boulevard in October 2004 and a site plan for the store was later approved by Pullman Public Works Director Mark Workman. PARD appealed the city's approval of the retail corporation's environmental checklist and site plan on the grounds that the store would impact stormwater run-off, traffic and negatively affect Pullman's local economy.

Washington state law allows only one public hearing on a proposed development. Spokane attorney John Montgomery - who acts as Pullman's hearing examiner - was called to oversee PARD's initial appeal. Montgomery compiled a findings of fact document from Wal-Mart, PARD and Pullman and concluded the retail giant's site plan and environmental checklist was sufficient. Montgomery's decision was upheld by Whitman County Superior Court Judge David Frazier and PARD's appeal was dismissed.

PARD then took the case to appellate court.

Bricklin pointed to Montgomery's findings of fact document Wednesday to show the store would have significant effects on traffic, the environment and the local economy. Bricklin argued that Montgomery's document was not comprehensive, as a Wal-Mart-sponsored traffic study was taken at face value and was not questioned.

As examples, Bricklin said the traffic study focused on weekdays only and provides no results on potential customers accessing the store on weekends, "Wal-Mart's busiest shopping days." He noted that the study also did not identify how the increased traffic would effect police, roads or pedestrians, particularly students from nearby Franklin Elementary School and Lincoln Middle School.

"There was no mitigation of the effects on schools and no analysis of it," Bricklin said. "We don't think the impact on 800 school kids is inconsequential."

Maduell also pointed to Montgomery's findings of fact and said despite the absence of some facts - such as how much traffic the stores generate on weekends - Frazier found the document to be adequate.

"It may not have been perfect, but the code does not require that," he said.

Maduell said it is up to PARD to prove Wal-Mart's plan would not meet Pullman codes.

"The burden is on them," he said.

Maduell declined comment after presenting his oral arguments.

Bricklin said the fact that Maduell admits Montgomery's findings are "not perfect" should be a red flag that the corporation didn't do all its homework.

"I think the citizens of Pullman deserve more than that," he said.

Bricklin also argued that Pullman Financial Director Troy Woo's "assumption" that the city would benefit from a Wal-Mart store is insufficient.

Wal-Mart may generate sales tax for the city, but would do so by taking away revenue from current Pullman businesses, he said.

"While Wal-Mart may benefit, the city's tax revenue will not increase," Bricklin said.

PARD Spokesman T.V. Reed said he's glad the case is back in motion.

"I'm glad things are moving along," he said. "Now all we can do is wait. We'd like to win and get this over with."

Reed said he hopes judges will side with PARD, which would force Wal-Mart to conduct more extensive studies of the store's impact on traffic and the environment. He would not say whether PARD would accept the retail giant locating at a different site in Pullman.

"It does not make sense on Bishop Boulevard," he said. "I can't imagine a worse site to build on, but I can't imagine many better, either."
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April E. Coggins said...

"Bricklin said he hopes the judges' silence during the 30-minute proceedings were a good sign."

The judges were probably stunned by the stupidity of the argument. How can PARD seriously argue that Pullman will see a dangerous increase in traffic and then argue that Pullman won't see an increase in shoppers? Sigh.

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

April: "How can PARD seriously argue that Pullman will see a dangerous increase in traffic and then argue that Pullman won't see an increase in shoppers? Sigh."

They apparently think that each of us is going to drive three cars at the same time whenever we head over to Walmart to shop.

No one ever accused them of making sense. :)

Sarcastic Housewife said...

This had to be one of the most biased pieces of journalism I've read in a long time. The other thing that amazed me was that the article made it sound like Franklin Elementary School and Lincoln Middle School were right next door to Wal-Mart, rather than having to drive through many twists and turns in a housing development to get to them. Plus - I don't know of any children who cross Bishop Blvd. to get to school and especially where the Wal-Mart is located.

April E. Coggins said...

I guess we should count ourselves lucky that PARD didn't try to claim safety concerns for the veterans buried in the cemetery.

Satanic Mechanic said...

Sarcastic Housewife is correct about the schools. I do not see PARD moaning and groaning over the fact that Lincoln Middle School is next to Shopko, Safeway and the Chevy dealership. If memory serves me correct, I have been away from Pullman for about two years now so I do not know the new developments, there is no direct road from LMS to Bishop Blvd. To get to LMS from Bishop, you have to take Grand, which is the closest. Franklin is further away from the Wal-Mart lot then LMS is.
PARD Logic = Tard Logic.