Saturday, March 18, 2006

ADE Sat Letters to the Editor

Is a Wal-Mart what you want?: "There have been articles critical of Wal-Mart's business practices as an employer and as a purchaser insisting that products sold in Wal-Mart be manufactured outside the USA. Saranac Lake might want to research these aspects of this giant before they invite him in."

Vote for Michael, Fontana, Waters: "I am writing because I feel our community is at a critical juncture. Will our village, 'the commercial and social center for many smaller hamlets in the vicinity,' control its own future, or will we cede control to outside forces?"

Irresponsible stances by Republicans: "Jeff Branch has shown extreme arrogance by taking the position that he supports a 121,000-square-foot Wal-Mart without knowing all the facts or listening to all sides of the issue. This is disrespectful to the public he serves. This is pandering for votes."

When you are buying a new car do you tell the salesperson that you have just GOT to have that care no matter what - before you start bargaining?

Questions about Wal-Mart: "On March 21, 2006, vote for candidates who think our downtown is one of our community's best assets."

Wal-Mart has abandoned other communities: "Please try to picture the entrance to our beautiful little town in 10 years if Wal-Mart does not its projected goals and abandons ship."

Will all of the Wal-Mart supercenters located in Plattsburgh, Malone, Potsdam, Ticonderoga and Saranac Lake (a 60 mile radius) survive? Wal-Mart must have a heck of a marketing plan and it sure doesn't involve helping you spend money anywhere but at Wal-Mart.

Fight for Saranac Lake people, not Wal-Mart: "Life is about people, not things or stuff we can purchase. Having a 121,000-square-foot something does not validate our existence." "We do not want to sell out to this huge retailer who does not and will not care about our lives." "Can we demand that Wal-Mart downsize its store to a mini-super center?"

WalMart Neighborhood Markets are about 42,000 to 55,000 sq ft. Read more here.

Wal-Mart tied to oppressive Chinese gov't: "My concern about Wal-Mart, which is the leading retailer in our nation, is its status as being in the forefront of sending U.S. dollars to China." "The issue with Wal-Mart is not just about how village stores get impacted and where underwear can be purchased at the lowest price; it is alos a moral and ethical question based on China's practices regarding how our money is spent."

Working at SL Wal-Mart? Take Your Breaks Out Back

ADE Fri Letters to the Editor

Learn about Wal-Mart before you vote: "Granted, the SLK area would benefit from a department store, but is Wal-Mart the answer? Certainly neither the pro-Wal-Mart nor the Wal-Mart opposition are ALL right. Become informed about Wal-Mart, read about the lawsuits filed against them, the Wal-Mart impact studies done, their employee profiles, and try to manage the huge impact of Wal-Mart before a store comes to your community".

Letter from ex-mayor of Lyons Falls. Become informed about Wal-Mart before you support it. No one can ask more than that.

Department store is needed, but it should be smaller: "What I find interesting is that there is so much energy being focused on clarifying the differences of the few and so little effort on recognizing how much the majority of people agree on the major issues - YES, a department store is needed, and YES it should be smaller."

Wal-Mart keeps election choices on the front line: "Our village is facing many challenges and important decisions at this juncture in its history. We need leadership that is honest, fair, open minded and innovative to see us through it."

We can only hope that whomever wins the Village elections next week that they will be honest, fair, open minded and innovative.

Choose what's best for SL this election day: "There's Smart Growth and Dumb Growth, and the coming village election appears to be a referendum on which way we choose to go. Dumb Growth is a vastly out-of-scale Wal-Mart at the approach to our village that will congest traffic, divert people from downtown, put some merchants out of business and hurt many others, and forfeit most of the tax benefits to North Elba and Essex County."

Friday, March 17, 2006

New Links Added

Potsdam is having Wal-Mart problems too.

North Country Citizens for Responsible Growth

Environmental Impacts of Proposed Potsdam Wal-Mart (pdf)

A whole list of National and community organizations fighting big box store development can be found here. Oh yeah, also a list of the pro-WalMart websites (all funded by Wal-Mart). Don't blink or you will miss them.

Potsdam Wal-Mart

188,560 sq ft store (more than 6 football fields), 20,000 sq. ft. outdoor retail center, separate 900 sq ft convenience store/gas station, and a 5 acre parcel for future development. The Potsdam Wal-Mart project includes a general merchandise retail store, a grocery store, a vehicle maintenance facility (Tire and Lube Express), a garden center, a drive-through pharmacy, an optical center, a hairdresser, a 12 pump gas station with a 100 ft long canopy, a 941 space parking lot and a 145 ft tall water tower. Much, much more here at Citizens for Responsible Growth.

Linda Piro vs Susan Waters: Truthiness vs Facts

You couldn't possibly find a nicer person in Saranac Lake than Linda Piro. But sometimes she is wrong. Linda has divided the community over the Wal-Mart issue. While almost everyone wants a large department store, some residents have questions about the size and location of a store. Some have questions about the effects of Wal-Mart on our community. Linda doesn't seem to be too concerned about these issues. In an article in Thur ADE, Linda said "In my heart, I really think that it's only going to help bring people in." See post below on 'Truthiness'. She went on to say "I don't believe in hasty decisions". However, deciding that Wal-Mart is the only choice for Saranac Lake might fall into the 'hasty' decision category. Oddly enough, Linda runs a small business of the type that Wal-Mart has put out business.

Susan Waters must be a saint. She is involved with 'Habitat for Humanity', probably one of the best ideas ever on how to bootstrap first home ownership. She understands that bringing a Wal-Mart Supercenter to town may have huge impacts on the community. She wants to know what those possible impacts might be before fully supporting Wal-Mart. Susan wants facts before making a decision. I'm guessing she is not into making hasty decisions either but may have a different definition of 'hasty'. Susan has experience running a multi-million dollar business and corporate management experience. Believe it or not, this fact was actually being used against her on TOT this morning. I, for one, would like someone with corporate management experience being involved in Wal-Mart negotiations. We are going to need it.

Malone Wal-Mart

184,000 sq ft (about 6 football fields) on 26 acres. 885 parking places (another 6 football fields?). Full grocery store, garden center, pharmacy, tire and lube and 16 pump gasoline station. This will be sure to revitalize the Malone downtown. All this and less than 50 miles from SL and another Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

ADE Thur Letters to the Editor

Currently, most letters to the editor of the ADE are concerned with SL Village Board and Mayor elections. The Republican candidates Branch, Piro, and Knuth have made it clear that they want Wal-Mart, even before economic impact studies have been done. The Democrat candidates are pro-development, realize the need for a large department store, are concerned about the downtown area and have lots of questions about the impact of a 121,000 sq ft Wal-Mart located on the outskirts of the town [These are my assessment of the candidates by the way]. So on with todays letters:

SL shouldn't want a Wal-Mart: Don't think I don't know what I'm talking about. We had a small shop in a Wal-Mart town and welcomed the "draw" of more people that it would attract. Our town looks like a ghost town - not even a grocery store or a gift shop left.

The letter writer is from Ticonderoga; they opened a Super Wal-Mart a few years ago.

Democrats are qualified, and they listen: Two reasons. One, they have the qualifications, both professionally and morally, to lead the village into the future. Two, because they are already out there listening to ALL of our hopes and concerns.

One does wonder why the Republican candidates have not been running campaign ads or having public forums. Is it because they have made this a one issue campaign and they have already won it?

Saranac Lake Democratic team has what it takes: A hasty decision based purely on providing increased shopping facilities can be potentially damaging in the long run.

Democrats will add to Saranac Lake's livelihood: The upcoming election for Village Mayor and Trustees is crucial for the future of this community. It should not be allowed to be portrayed merely as a referendum on Wal-Mart. The real underlying issues are good governance, sensible growth, affordable housing and property taxes that will allow the community to continue to develop as a vibrant, diverse community.

Unfortunately, the Republican candidates have already made it into a referendum on Wal-Mart.

Vote Wal-Mart! Vote Republican: On Tuesday, March 21, I'm going to cast my vote for Walmart, which means I am voting for Jeff Branch for mayor and Linda Piro and Tony Knuth for trustees.

Yes, one issue and one issue only for the Republicans. Get a Wal-Mart and all our problems will just disappear.

Democrats know how to bring ideas to life: Will our Village Board continue 'business as usual.' or will it step boldly into a future of openness and cooperation that have not been evident recently?

I guessing 'business as usual' for sure.

SL Democratic team continues to be proactive: The new village board must be prepared to deal proactively with numerous issues of concern to the citizens of Saranac Lake and the surrounding towns.

Village Should Insure Rec Path Access

Here is an interesting concern. Several years ago the Town of North Elba was awarded $800,000 to construct a 'bike path' between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. The proposed nine mile path would follow the railroad right of way. It appears that without an easement from the village of SL, access to the path from Lake Flower Ave could be blocked. This of course is the proposed WalMart building site.

Many people pooh pooh the idea of the recreation path. But they probably haven't visited communities that are connected by such a path. Here is a map of one bike path that I am quite familiar with. It connects Woods Hole, MA with Falmouth, MA. It also follows an old railroad bed. This path is extensively used by bikers, joggers, walkers, etc and benefits both communities financially.

BTW? WalMart reps have said they would make the back of their proposed store, which faces the railroad tracks and proposed bike path, 'as attractive as possible'. Anyone have an idea how to make a 300 ft long 20 ft high concrete wall 'attractive'?

Thomas Michael, Christina Fontana, Susan Waters

Not being a resident of the village of Saranac Lake, I can't vote in the upcoming elections. But if I could, I'd vote for Micheal, Fontana and Waters. Why? Because of the below pledge for one and because they are smart, professional people that will consider all sides of an issue before making a decision. Also, they are not 'one issue' candidates. Moreover, it's high time that the SL Village Board improve its relations with the police department. We need some fresh faces and new blood to revitalize our village. BTW, where is the pledge from the Republican candidates? Are they taking you for granted already?

Our Pledge to Saranac Lake
In the current village election campaign, you’ve heard conflicting claims about our position on community issues. We want to clear things up by pledging to you:

Honest, Open Government:
We pledge to consider input from all groups and use executive session at Village Board meetings only when absolutely necessary.

Commercial Development:
We pledge to use our business and development expertise to encourage and welcome commercial growth including:
A department store, whether it be Wal-Mart or any nationally known, financially stable, retailer, and to work with them so their development fits our community’s needs
Downtown development to ensure the vitality of our community center
Attracting businesses that enhance our community and provide more shopping choices
We will work with all developers fairly and negotiate firmly so they pay their fair share of improvements required because of their development.

Controlling Taxes:
We pledge to reduce the cost of running our local government by:
Sharing services with neighboring communities
Expanding the commercial tax base to reduce residential taxes
Working to reduce spiraling retirement and insurance costs for village employees
Helping department heads reduce overtime expenditures
Creating more tax-paying homeowners by developing housing that average residents can buy

Employee Relations:
We pledge professional leadership for village employees by
Performing annual evaluations and outlining clear disciplinary measures
Listening to employees’ expertise and keeping them informed
Creating a Code of Conduct so all village employees are responsive to and respectful of our community residents

We ask for your vote on March 21st so our community will grow and thrive.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Everyday Low Vices: How much should we hate Wal-Mart?

A good article here in Washington Monthly. This is a great article describing pre- and post-Sam Walton Wal-Mart.

Here is a good point. The entire sector of discount retailers—from Target to Costco to Best Buy to Home Depot—does much the same thing. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart's critics tend to focus on the company's low wages and paltry benefits, or its effect on small towns, or its reliance on outsourcing. But these, too, are by and large sins of the entire discount retail sector. So why pick on Wal-Mart?

The answer is that Wal-Mart really is different. In terms of annual revenue, Wal-Mart is nearly four times the size of The Home Depot, the country's second largest retailer, and almost twice the size of Target, Costco, and Sears (which includes Kmart) combined. That means the company exerts pressure on the entire sector to imitate its methods—including its treatment of workers. That would be less worrisome if Wal-Mart's record didn't stand out within the sector. But there are strong indications that, when it comes to how it treats its employees, Wal-Mart really is worse than the rest.

Read it all.

NOTE: Comments on this article can be read here.

Pro-WalMart and Truthiness

Many WalMart supporters believe that: Wal-Mart will increase the tax base, be good for downtown business, benefit Franklin and Essex counties, provide good jobs, donate huge amounts of money to the community, will remain in SL for the long term no matter what, not cost the taxpayers any development costs, etc. How can they be so sure of these beliefs? Well, it has to do with 'Truthiness'.

This is a word 're-invented' by Stephen Colbert. It means "to know something emotionally or instinctively, without regard to evidence or to what the person might conclude from intellectual examination."

Stephen Colbert hit the nail on the head when he said "It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that's not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything."

It's understandable that some people resort to 'truthiness'. Most people realize that SL needs a large department store to replace Ames. Still, it would be good to get away from 'truthiness' and start at least thinking about facts.

Post of a Comment

I thought this comment deserved to be posted where everyone can see it.

Target not being interested in Saranac Lake is not entirely true. According to Tom Michaels, who is currently running for mayor, they are NOT INTERESTED AT THIS TIME. They are working their way up North. They want to build in Plattsburgh, and get past Albany. In about 3-5 years they would be looking at our area.
Tom also says that Wal-Mart is NOT OUR ONLY ANSWER. He came to a local merchants meeting yesterday. He did tell us that the sand lot will probably get zoned commercial. But Wal-Mart is not the only company interested in coming to our town. He feels that we shouldn't accept the first company that gets here. We should as a village make the decision as to what is best for everyone concerned. He also has some FABULOUS IDEAS for working on the downtown. He wants to see additional commercial built. The upper Broadway area would be ideal for this. Property that could be considered for this is part of Church street where the Tops/Grand Union is, Depot Street, and further up Broadway. Some of the property owners would be gone for the right price. Then their building comes down and in the new construction, the ground floor becomes commercial and the upper floors become residential. Great idea. Tom says that we have developers who come here in the summer because they have camps up here. They could be contacted and the village could work with them.
Most of the property on upper Broadway past the stop light at Bloomingdale Avenue next to the Rusty Nail bar could be considered. The area is already zoned commercial so no problem there.
Our main problem with the downtown is that many storefronts are too small. You can't have a good selection of product when your store front is barely 1,000 square feet. And all the larger store fronts are taken up. What becomes available on a regular basis are store fronts too small to do much of anything with. We need to build larger commercial square footages. And another problem we have had in the past is many buildings burned that were downtown, and they didn't get replaced. When we lost the old Berkley Hotel in the 1980's we lost a considerble amount of retail space. We've also lost other buildings and they haven't gotten replaced either. We need to build "new" commercial space.
And we need to get Tom Michaels, Christy Fontana, and Susan Waters elected so it can be done. The Republicans can only see Wal-Mart in their picture. They DON'T HAVE ANY OTHER AGENDA. They are one-issue candidates!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

ADE Tue Letters to the Editor

Many letters supporting candidates for Village office. Basically, Republicans want Wal-Mart and don't really need any more info from Wal-Mart. Democrats realize that the area needs a department store but want answers to questions before making a firm decision. And, they don't want Wal-Mart walking all over us.

Branch, Piro have the best vision. ...Jeff and Linda understand that the dream of an Adirondack lifestyle is quickly slipping away from many area residents due to skyrocketing taxes.

Are we assuming that having a Wal-Mart is going to solve the rising tax problems? Published studies say otherwise. How is a Wal-Mart going to preserve the dream of an Adirondack lifestyle?

Vote Piro, Branch, Knuth. "To anybody with a good head on their shoulders and who's a good, patriotic American, they're only three people worth voting for on March 21...

The good ole Republican argument of if you don't do what we say, you are not a patriotic American.

Michael, Fontana, Waters seem best. We must vote for people who will work together to find and implement long term economically viable solutions. This requires more than knee jerk responses.....

In defense of Donaldson, in support of Piro. ...I can guarantee, if she is elected to the village board, her actions will be done by the book....

Hopefully, whoever is elected, their actions will be done by the book. We shouldn't need any guarantees.

Supercenter a bad fit for 'Distinctive Destination'. How does the addition of a Supercenter, which is three times the size of the former Ames store in Saranac Lake, fit into the beautiful picture of what our village is and can be in the future?

Well, maybe we don't need no stinkin 'Distinctive Destinations'.

Get to know the Republican candidates. Jeff Branch, President of CSEA Local 170. A person that Wal-Mart would never hire, being a union guy and all. Linda Piro, school board member (along with Cliff Donaldson). Tony Knuth, not much info. They recognize a great need for affordable housing... Just not at the village sandpit site. Outside of town is better. These candidates are very excited about continuing the process of bringing a large retail store to Saranac Lake (Wal-Mart).

Waters is a seasoned professional. Adirondack Business and Professional Women's Club 2006 Woman of the Year.

SL Village Trustee McEneany Schools Wal-Mart Reps

Article in todays Press Republican. SL Village Board trustee John McEneany said "The Wal-Mart people should not doubt the resolve of this community to protect its historic nature, its sense of community and its sense of charm." Mr McEneany was addressing his remarks to several Wal-Mart representatives that were in the audience.

This is exactly the message SL should be sending Wal-Mart. If they want to locate in SL they are going to have to play by our rules and not by theirs.

Monday, March 13, 2006

New Papers Added Under Links

Wal-Mart and Job Quality – What Do We Know, and Should We Care? by Arindrajit Dube, PhD, UC Berkeley Institute of Industrial Relation and Steve Wertheim, UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.

Wal-Mart: A manager's toolbox to remaining union free (Confidential) Wal-Mart is not anti-union, they are pro-associate.

Wal-Mart News

At WNBZ. Nothing we don't already know. Republican candidates for Village office support the Wal-Mart 'proposal', even before they know what it might entail. Democrat candidates want more information before they make a decision. Wal-Mart spokesman Phillip Serghini says they will stay out of Village politics and work with whomever is elected.

In other news at WNBZ, Village candidates for mayor will discuss issues on WNBZ on Thursday from 7-8 PM. They will take questions from callers and respond to email questions. Audio will be carried on Adelphia
channel 2.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Wal-Mart vs Target - Price Comparison

Shop for 20 very different items and add up the totals:

Wal-Mart $115.51

Target $120.40

Most of the total cost difference was due to the price of a single item.

Read whole story here.

Wal-Mart can cover the cost of a dollar an hour wage increase by raising prices a half penny per dollar. For instance, a $2.00 pair of socks would then cost $2.01. This minimal increase would annually add up to $1,800 for each employee. [Analysis of Wal-Mart Annual Report 2005] Wake Up Wal-Mart.

Cliff Donaldson Erred in Secret Dealings

Todays Plattsburgh Press Republican Editorial.

"When it comes to dealing with Wal-Mart, candor is essential. No community should be blind-sided by the sudden appearance of plans to open an outlet. Every step of the way in the process should be taken carefully and with full disclosure."