Archive for the ‘Editor’s Blog’ Category
Our Editor is on a very brief, and much deserved leave. I just wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone how valuable their support is to the NWCRG. We are about to begin the Act 250 hearings at the American Legion Hall in St. Albans, from June 26 through June 30; every day from 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM. Jon Groveman will be representing us, through the kind support of the VNRC. It is vitally important that as many of our members and friends as possible, put in an appearance (in the audience)at these hearings, in order to demonstrate how important this matter is to all of us. I have recently been wearing one of the VNRC’s anti-sprawl t-shirts around town. It’s the one with the Jeff Danzinger cartoon of the predatory big-box. A number of people have spontaneously come up to me to declare their support for the NWCRG. It is very gratifying, of course, but we sure could use your help as well as your encouragement. We have a pretty daunting mission ahead of us; and while we have many, many folks who encourage us from the sidelines, we need a few more in the trenches. S
There is a new word: walmart, n, wahlmaht, generic: a big-box; an over-sized store that kills local, family businesses like an assasin kills people; surrounded by paved-over cornfields; and conceived, planned, built and run by and for the benefit of competemaniacs that exhaust everyone that comes near them, financially, as an employee, environmentally and in quality, in any way.
I am exhausted and want to thank those of us who could staff our table in front of the Rail City Market. It met our expectations. Many people walked by and muttered to themselves but a very adequate number stopped to talk with us, thank us for our efforts and contribute to support us.
Even with exceptionally fine weather for this year’s event, the current site is not on the sunny side of the street in the afternoon. It is a cold location without more global warming.
After that Sue, Mark and Jesse Prent and I, and others, walked in the parade for Bernie.
I can’t remember who told me that the start of the parade was on Lower Weldon Street. I parked in Greg Brown’s new station lot, asked for directions at the Pancake Breakfast, learned the start was back downtown and walked there and in the parade. Sore. I need more exercise.
The Northwest Regional Planning Commission’s Ad Hoc Committee made no detail resolutions of anything. Every issue between the St. Albans Town and the Regional Plan, as identified by the Project Review Committee, was determined to be fixable by unspecified changes, sometime in the future, or ignorance, of maps and rules or the findings of the standing Project Review Committee of the Commission. They simply voted out of existence the issues that existed on the date of application between the town and Regional Plan.
I would recommend that the rules specifying the Ad Hoc Committee be deleted. The recent process was an obvious, blatant sham of democracy.
I would recommend that the Regional Commission, operating with Regional Issues would, at the very least, record their meetings on tape from which questions about the minutes could be verified, as is done for all zoning meetings in Bakersfield and, I presumed, at most planning meetings in Vermont. These were key, process meetings about which every attendee can remember what they choose because the minutes are summaries chosen to show the desired progress.
This form of process has no place in Vermont.
The political leaders, of St. Albans Town and Franklin County, who are yielding to some of the publics clamor for a store, that “can’t be big enough and can’t come soon enough,” are failing in their duty to the public. They are abandoning local controlThat duty is not simply to give some members of the public what they want, right now. There is also a duty to serve their interests in the long term, to explain what is best, and to do what is best for their children and their grandchildren.
Is there local control by the public when persons subordinate to Wal-Mart’s interests, a real estate developer with a financial interest and an engineer contracted to the developer, have recommended to the St. Albans Town Planning Commission how the zoning bylaws should read?
Is there local control when persons, without financial interest, do not balance more knowledgeable members of the public having financial interests in the outcome of the planning process?
Where is the local control when Wal-Mart will not release information about its stores, its employees and its sales and contractually forbids its suppliers to supply information to others? Independent researchers are denied the data with which to study the stores’ impacts. When others operate in secrecy, when they will not provide asked for information, it is necessary to presume the worst impact in order to protect oneself.
To quote Mr. Charles Fishman, in his book, The Wal-Mart Effect: “Both as individuals and as a society we have an obligation to answer the unanswered questions about Wal-Mart. Otherwise we have surrendered control-of our communities, of our economy, of some measure of our destiny-to decisions made in Bentonville.”
Where is the local control when community leaders ignore peer reviewed studies that show significant impacts on rural communities, by the academic departments of universities without monetary interest, when they contradict the studies of developers and corporate interests? This amounts to putting one’s head in the sand.
The cry of local control is raised when it is proposed that communities be required to inform themselves of big-box consequences, Vermont Senate Bill S.0142.
Where is the local control when a corporation can incite clamor by the public and dictate the size of a store?
Whose local control is it when real estate developers and property owners decide the future of a community?
What economic local control does the Town of Enosburg, or any surrounding towns, lose when St. Albans Town chooses to control the economy of Franklin County?
Local control deserves more than lip service. Local control is too precious to allow it to be usurped by other persons, associations, municipalities or corporations. It deserves whatever investigation it takes to preserve it for the future, for everyone. Do not let developers or corporations take it from you because you do not want to see the truth.
The following was received in our website mailbox some time ago. “Enclosed is my gift to all the small towns in America that are fighting the Walmart juggernaut, my poem, “Walmart Heaven.”
Gutting downtowns like sacrificial cows, turning hillsides to asphalt plains, standardizing, bastardizing, sanitizing art to the $2.99 rack, Walmart heaven, that is what Sam left you, rural America. Spend the day, bring the kids, Jesus on the bookrack; Buddha is a piggy bank. Rub his tummy, make a wish. Altar number three is open for your convenience. Flora is a wallpaper border, fauna, a football jersey; Gators and Razorbacks, Eagles and Dolphins are never to be seen again, except here at Walmart heaven. Will Byron, age seven, and Shelley, age nine, remember the squeaky wood floors of the downtown apothecary? Why should we care? Bare sterile tile, blue light specials, and falling prices are why we exist. They have friendly service and foreign made junk. Don't need a rain check; they never run out. Every dollar heads upstairs, but why should we care? 'Cause we can shop and stay dry. The pay is lousy and benefits poor, but we don't have to wander from store to store any more. Plenty of parking. Sound like Utopia? Or Nirvana? No, it's just Walmart Heaven. And it's coming to your hometown. Copyright 1996 @Al Chiodi
It certainly is foolish for the American people, or their representatives, to allow people in China to make thirty percent of what we consume. Let’s face it, how many of us desire to be that dependent on another society more needy than ourselves? A minority, it is hoped. Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that we all need to be as independent as possible, at all times. An American, self-sustainable economy and way of life will come. They may come as unexpectedly and suddenly and unpleasantly as Katrina.
Astounding! According to Charles Fishman, on Page 108 of The Wal-Mart Effect:
“The connection to the elimination of manufacturing jobs is less direct, but equally striking. While Wal-Mart was adding 480,000 jobs between 1997 and 2004, U.S. manufacturing jobs during those years fell by 3.1 million jobs, a loss of 37,000 factory jobs a month, on average for eighty-four straight months.
Indeed, diring the last seven years, a remarkable milestone has passed all but unnoticed: In 2003. for the first time in modern U.S. history, the number of Americans working in retail (14.9 million) was greater than the number of Americans working in factories (14.5 million).”
Nothing is free! For the leaders of the Town of St. Albans to expect that the town will get any style, character, order, cultural aspects, parks or other features that make an urban center pleasant without expense on the part of the town is absurd. These desireable things won’t happen unless the town controls the developers. Lack of control results in development that does not meet the goals of Vermont Planning Statutes
How can a store that sells more dollars of merchandise per employee than stores that sell less per employee employ more people than the less efficient stores? It cannot! There is a loss of local retail employment. The big-box stores provide their own merchandize distribution. The local product distribution companies and their employees are no longer needed. More jobs are lost.