In addition to making the obvious comparison between Professor Ayad Rahmani's elitism and that displayed by Barack Obama in his "bitter Americans" statement, I wanted to make a deeper, more subtle point.
Many of Rahmani's cheerleaders, including Chuck Pezeshki and Chris Lupke, are proponents of locally-owned businesses versus national chains. Yet, there are no chain stores on Bishop other than Safeway (yet.) There are only locally-owned businesses (Fireside Grille, Village Centre Cinemas, Corporate Pointe, Crimson and Gray, Zeppoz, Barnacle Bill's, et. al.) and locally-owned and -operated franchises (Radio Shack, Absolute Fitness, Jiffy Lube, Holiday Inn Express, et. al.)
Do we as a community really want to impose onerous and expensive architectural requirements on the types of businesses we supposedly want to encourage just to please the aesthetic sensibilities of a few professors? That will make our local businesses even less competitive with national chains. I'm quite proud of all the progress on Bishop Blvd. over the last 10 years. The sidewalks will come later when the city has more money and the Bishop build-out is complete.
For example, up in Hayden, the city negotiated with Wal-Mart to have the facade of the store tan and brown with rock veneer "to blend with the rustic flavor Hayden Lake is trying to develop as part of a revitalization project." That's chump change to Wal-Mart; merely the cost of doing business. They are dropping $600,000 to put in stop lights down in Clarkston. But that's a very big deal to a small business.
From Monday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Prior to Professor Ayad Rahmani's "architorture" faux-protest a few weeks back, I had heard only pride expressed about the buildings on Bishop Boulevard from Pullman residents, civic leaders and elected officials. Many have rightfully praised native son Duane Brelsford Jr.'s Corporate Pointe, Fireside Grille, and Village Centre Cinemas, as well as the new Pullman Regional Hospital.
Now, much as presidential candidate Barack Obama has been doing for the past week, Rahmani, who called Bishop Boulevard "counter-human," has tried to perform damage control (Opinion, April 18.)
Unfortunately for Rahmani, his Viewpoint column in the Oct. 26 issue of WSU Today completely undermined his efforts.
Sure, Rahmani is concerned about the "built environment," but only because a "worldly faculty member wants to be proud of his or her choice of place, not making apologies to those who visit" and "high-class faculty will refuse to live in scattered and inconsequential buildings."
His call for the public and the private sectors to work together also rings hollow. In his column, Rahmani claimed only the university can "save" Pullman. Pullman's housing represents the "worst of the effects of a market economy." Developers persist in building homes with "materials and planning that are highly wasteful and unsustainable." The city is "too bogged down in trying to increase tax revenues to worry about the role of architecture in improving matters." Rahmani advocated a Washington State University land grab on Grand Avenue, which "shows little beyond gas stations and neglected farm buildings," under the guise of "student housing."
Rahmani stated, "This need not be a divisive issue." Unfortunately, we nonworldly, low-class, nonfaculty types get bitter. We cling to offensive "mcmansions" with garages or inconsequential cookie-cutter homes or antipathy to people who insult and disparage our town and the people who live in it as a way to explain our frustrations.
Tom Forbes, Pullman