Friday, April 28, 2006

Harrietstown Town Board Wants Wal-Mart in Downtown

There is a new interesting local development on Wal-Mart. Harrietstown Town Board has passed a resolution stating that it doesn't want Wal-Mart or any other large retailer to build outside the downtown area.

In todays ADE:

Instead board members want a committee consisting of local leaders to encourage development in the downtown area.

The resolution passed by the Harrietstown board authorizes Miller to send a letter to the Saranac Lake village mayor, Saranac Lake-Area Chamber of Commerce executive director and chairman of the Red Carpet Committee. The letter will ask the leaders of these groups to meet in a work session to develop a strategy for drawing retailers to downtown.

Smaller store and downtown location seems to be a reasonable compromise.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Shackling Wal-Mart

Jeff Milchen, the co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance, writes about the Shackling of Wal-Mart. This is an article discussing the outcry against Wal-Mart's request to enter the banking industry. A public outcry "led to the first-ever public hearings held by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for a banking application".

I think this is true:

Naturally, Wal-Mart executives complain that it’s unfair for the Target Corporation to own a bank while they cannot, and they understandably are frustrated that Target largely escapes scrutiny for operating a business that emulates Wal-Mart in almost every manner. But just as many communities rightfully control big box stores more stringently than small businesses, Wal-Mart’s power demands we control it more stringently.

People continually wonder why the uproar against Wal-Mart and not other big box stores. Maybe it's because they don't understand the enormous size, financial advantage, and political power that is wielded by Wal-Mart.

Guess Who is Funding Repeal of the 'Death Tax'?

Mainly 18 super rich families including our nemesis.

The stakes of the campaign are great, not only for the super-wealthy families, but for the public. If the families’ repeal bid succeeds, it will cost the U.S. Treasury a trillion dollars in the first decade – roughly what it would cost to provide health insurance for every uninsured person in the United States.

The Walton family's net worth is 83.7 billion dollars. If the 'Death Tax' is repealed they stand to save 32.6 billion dollars. The average family on the other hand is 4 times more likely to get hit by lightning than have to pay the 'Death Tax'. 99.7% of people who die in the USA in 2006 will not have to pay estate taxes.

Report from Public Citizen is here (pdf).

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Wal-Mart Reps Refuse Invite to Village Board Meeting

Tom Micheal, Mayor of Saranac Lake, invited Wal-Mart representatives to attend a May 15 Village Board Meeting. At this meeting there will be a presentation concerning the rezoning of the village sandpit site where Wal-Mart has expressed interest in building a store. Thus far, the Wal-Mart reps have refused the invitation. Read more here in today's ADE.

One interesting bit of information is that Mr. Micheal met with Wal-Mart reps last February as a representative of the 'Red Carpet Team' prior to being elected mayor.

Michael said he told the Wal-Mart representatives at that meeting there were other possible sites in the village for potential development and that the Wal-Mart representatives were interested in hearing those ideas.

Does this imply that Essex County Manager Cliff Donaldson never mentioned to Wal-Mart reps about possible downtown building sites? Building sites which are located in Franklin County and the Town of Harrietstown?

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Al Norman, anti-Wal-Mart activist and founder of Sprawl Busters. Questions by editors and by readers of Grist Magazine.

Q. Have you encountered critics who argue that low-income shoppers can't afford not to shop at big-box stores like Wal-Mart? What has been your response? -- Evelyn Goss, Austin, Texas

A. Yes. Wal-Mart has created and perpetuated a low-income cycle of worker/consumer. Something like 30 percent or more of Wal-Mart shoppers have no bank accounts. Wal-Mart's 1.5 million workers have to shop at the company store because they can't afford to shop elsewhere. It's a great closed-loop system, akin to a plantation where the field workers went to the company store with their day's wages. By making small profits on large volumes, Wal-Mart has created great wealth at the top of the chain. Each member of the Walton family is worth about $18 billion. They could afford to pay their workers a decent wage and provide them with health insurance, instead of amassing unimaginable wealth. That's why I say the model is based on greed, not need.

Q. What strategies have been used in the past to encourage Wal-Mart to rethink its plans and either relocate or sell its property to a developer who will enhance the area? -- Dean Brown, Orange, Calif.

A. You cannot "encourage Wal-Mart to rethink its plans." It pays no attention to what the community says it wants. Wal-Mart is driven by what it thinks its stockholders want and what will add value to its stock. But local citizens can reinvent their zoning codes to stop or restrict big-box sprawl. A cap on the footprint size of buildings can be done with one sentence.

While you are at it, read Umbra Fisk's answer to the question "Why is Wal-Mart Evil"? here.

And, read a little something good about Wal-Mart trying to improve it's environmental image here.