Saturday, April 01, 2006

SL Village Sandlot to Become Wal-lyworld?

According to an article in todays Adirondack Daily Enterprise the village sandlot on Lake Flower Ave. is to become a Wal-lyworld. ADE reporter Geoff Hayward interviewed Clark Griswald, one of those 'transplants' to the area. Griswald said "The timing of this announcement is really what people should be paying attention to" "To go behind the people's backs like this is unconscionable."

Many Tri-Lakes area residents were unhappy about the Wal-lyworld on the outskirts of the village. However they realized that Wal-lyworld would have just relocated in the next village over if they were not allowed to build on the sandlot site.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Community Benefit Agreements

Next week our new mayor and village trustees begin their term of office. One of the big issues now on the table is the question of rezoning the Lake Flower Avenue Village sandpit site. This would be an appropriate time to learn about community benefit agreements.

Google 'community benefit agreements' and you will get more information than you need.

From good jobs ny website:

What is a CBA?

A Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) is a legally binding contract negotiated between a developer and a coalition representing broad spectrum of community members impacted by the development. In exchange for community members' support for the project, the developer agrees to provide certain benefits. Existing CBAs include provisions such as funds for affordable housing and open space, card check neutrality for workers who choose to organize unions, and living wage goals for workers employed at the development.

In order to be meaningful, a CBA must incorporate concerns from a wide variety of stakeholders that come together as one coalition, and must lead to contributions from the developer and support for the project from coalition members that would not have emerged in the absence of CBA negotiations.

Who participates in a CBA?

Developers - to get a project through its approval process as quickly and smoothly as possible, with the public support of local stakeholders and elected officials.

Residents - to have a say in shaping the development projects in your neighborhood, to minimize the disruption they may cause, and to ensure that they contribute to the local quality of life.

Job seekers - to improve access to jobs for unemployed and under-employed people in the impacted area, and to support the inclusion of job quality standards, for example living wages, health benefits, and paid vacation.

Business owners - to give input on how best to increase local foot traffic and minimize disruptions while making sure that new-comers are not given an unfair competitive advantage over existing businesses through public subsidies that come without any strings attached.

Unions - to expand opportunities for existing members and ensure that unorganized workers can exercise their right to join a union.

City officials - to facilitate the completion of worthy projects, help craft economic development outcomes that balance the needs of city residents, businesses, and tax-payers, and encourage the types of businesses that invest - and remain - in the neighborhoods in which they locate.

Wal-Mart should have no problem with such an agreement because they are concerned about communities. Everyone participates, everyone compromises, everyone wins.

An example of a community benefit agreement can be found here.

Read about the first NY CBA here.

Gateway Center at Bronx Terminal Market Community Benefits Agreement here (pdf).

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ticonderoga Wal-Mart - Illegal Aliens

The Ticonderoga Wal-Mart is apparently getting renovated. The contractor or subcontractor has been using illegal aliens as employees. And, this isn't the first time this has happened.

According to an article in todays Plattsburgh Press Republican:

In 2003, four members of a Lithuanian cleaning group at the Ticonderoga Wal-Mart were taken into custody by the Border Patrol for deportation. The arrests were part of a nationwide roundup of 300 illegal aliens staffing Wal-Mart cleaning crews.

Of course Wal-Mart knows absolutely nothing about the use of illegal alien labor in their stores and immediately suspended the renovation work. Did they use a local contractor and local labor? Unlikely. Wal-Mart uses subcontractors (who hire illegal aliens) so that they can deny responsibility for the labor violations. Wal-Mart likes to give "Always low prices. Always.", so they have to keep their labor costs down as low as possible.

A good article concerning Wal-Mart and illegal alien workers can be found here.

Wal-Mart officials said it made sense to contract out the cleaning work because that enabled store managers to concentrate on what they do best, operating stores that provide low-cost merchandise. Wal-Mart uses about 100 contractors to clean nearly 1,000 of its stores.

Several industry executives said the questionable contractors made it hard for legitimate operators to bid low enough to win contracts at Wal-Mart.

"When you don't pay taxes, don't pay Social Security and don't pay workers' comp, you have a 40 percent cost advantage," said Lilia Garcia, executive director of the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund, a group financed by California cleaning contractors to police fly-by-night competitors. "It makes it hard for companies that follow the rules."

Read the lawsuit brought against WalMart by the illegal alien janitors here (pdf).

See, if Wal-Mart had to play by the rules, we wouldn't have "Everyday Low Prices".

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Downtown Rutland, VT
With a downsized, downtown Wal-Mart. It has been done and can be done.

Downtown Wal-Mart - St. Albans, VT

Wal-Mart wants to build a 150,000 sq ft store in a corn field outside of St. Albans, VT. But wouldn't a downtown store be a better deal for everyone involved? Here is a simulated picture of how a Wal-Mart would fit into a downtown location and actually enhance the town. Visit the Preservation Trust of Vermont website for more information. Smaller, multi-story Wal-Marts with underground parking are evidently being developed for European cities.

Maybe the Adirondack Daily Enterprise should publish an open letter to H. Lee Scott Jr., CEO of Wal-Mart, requesting a downsized, downtown Wal-Mart for Saranac Lake (just as the residents of Vermont did).

Monday, March 27, 2006

Together Again - Howard Riley in ADE

Howard Riley wrote in Sat. ADE a column about the Democrats sweeping the Village elections. The last paragraph is worth posting for those of you who do not get the ADE.

It is now time for the village board, the Harrietstown Town Board, the chamber of commerce, the Red Carpet Team, the Local Merchants Association and others who want to play a part to get a department store in a DOWNTOWN location where seniors can walk to it. If Wal-Mart can pay more than 2 million bucks for only one of the sites in its present plan, then there are sites that they can afford to develop downtown in a store of reasonable size.
The citizens of Saranac Lake have just spoken loud and clear that they will decide what Saranac Lake wants and needs and gave a big Bronx cheer to those who believe otherwise.

Congratulations to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on your great new website. Welcome to the 21st Century!

UPDATE: The entire text of Mr. Riley's column is posted here at the ADE website.

Find the Wal-Mart Store Entrance

Make Big Boxes Get Small & Go Downtown. From Isn't this a smart idea? Limit the store size and make them build downtown and 80% of Saranac Lakers would likely welcome Wal-Mart into their community. A neighborhood Wal-Mart store sells 23,000 items and is less than 50,000 sq. ft.

Also, read this (pdf) to see how Rutland, VT dealt with Wal-Mart, downsize and downtown.

Also, a great speech by Bill McKibben at this same website.

How Good a Neighbor is Wal-Mart?

Go here to find out. Make sure and read some of the emails.

A Question for Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart imports billions of dollars of stuff from China and other countries in the far East. Thousands of containers loaded with Wal-Mart imported goods must arrive in US West coast ports every week. What is Wal-Mart's stance on port security? Do they believe that all their containers full of imported goods should be inspected and secured prior to leaving the foreign ports? Do they support Congressional action that would require such inspections?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Wal-Mart and Bangladesh

Much of the clothing sold by Wal-Mart is made in Bangladesh under extremely poor conditions and pay, often using child labor. Wal-Mart now claims to have instituted a Corporate Code of Conduct that will prevent dealing with suppliers that employ children under the age of 14. However, it is questionable whether the code can be enforced.

From CBC news:
Radio-Canada journalists posed as buyers in the Canadian garment industry so they could videotape inside factories in Bangladesh with hidden cameras. In one factory, typical of many in the country, children were busy with lower-skill tasks. In badly lit, dirty and overheated workshops, young boys were everywhere. A label reading Simply Basic, one of Wal-Mart's in-house brand names along with the number CA 28885, the corporate ID of Wal-Mart Canada, was seen in the factory. The same factory also produces Wal-Mart's corporate T-shirt for Canada. The factory manager told Radio-Canada that the children are working on domestic production. "They do not work on export garments, like Wal-Mart's," said Liakot Patwary. "I can give you [a] guarantee." But after filling many orders, Patwary said he had never met inspectors from the company and Wal-Mart had not visited the factory.

Read more about 'Wal-Mart's Shirts of Misery' here.

Read about Wal-Mart in China here.

Read about Sweatshop Labor at the

This may seem like picking on Wal-Mart because all large retailers are now exploiting overseas workers to provide us with low cost clothing. But Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world and they have to lead the change in this disgusting practice.