And Vallejo needs you…now!
Okay, friends, here we go again. Quiet back-room behind-your-back bargaining. Big out-of-town boys in dark blue suits, money bulging from their pockets, local good ole boy lawyers in their tow. Another deal about to go down.
Maybe the Times-Herald will dribble out a few details this weekend. You'd think they might. After all, the City Council meets on it Tuesday, April 26...in typical Vallejo fashion at 5:00 p.m. Got the kids home from school yet? Home from work yet? Had your dinner? Had a chance to get up to speed on the details? To define your position? Prepare your talking points?
Have we got a deal for you! "We" are the Wal-Mart boys from Bentonville and we want you. We want Vallejo. We want a new big box "supercenter" on the old K-Mart site on Sonoma Boulevard in addition to, not instead of new AmCan supercenter.
Our new downtown Wal-Mart would be located about a mile down Sonoma Boulevard from the existing store at Meadows Plaza, 2.5 miles from the planned supercenter in "downtown" American Canyon, and just a few miles from an another existing store in Napa and one down the road in Fairfield. Even the Chamber's Rick Wells has expressed some surprise, saying it was "intriguing" that Wal-Mart would want to locate a string of stores so close to each other. The Spanish located their missions a convenient day's ride apart. Our Wal-Marts will be located a half-hour's walk apart. Now that's convenient!
Is that because Wal-Mart is so user friendly? No, it's because, in the eyes of the boys from Bentonville, Vallejo is an easy target. If Wal-Mart has its eyes on you, you are in the crosshairs of a very big blunderbuss.
Already last year, when rumors about this first surfaced, we heard the same arguments that were deployed earlier on behalf of LNG - tax revenues and jobs. Mayor Intintolli said he was "glad they are interested in Vallejo" and, according to the T-H last August "touted the importance of the revenue, jobs and community support Wal-Mart provides." Noting that a new megastore could lead to a "strengthening of the job base," the Chamber's Wells cited the "potential for a positive impact on the economy." So, there we are, the same old cast of characters, the same old mantra - revenue, jobs - and the same lack of critical questioning about what's really best for Vallejo.
Even the mayor, however, admitted to some fears that a Wal-Mart megastore on Sonoma Boulevard would doom the rehabilitation of the city's commercial corridor and, specifically, the mixed use plan for the K-Mart site that would include housing as well as retail. What, for example, would happen to other stores like Mervyn's and those struggling at Redwood Plaza. Wal-Mart has a record for gobbling up such competitors. Are the Chamber of Commerce's current members aware of that predatory record?
Jobs? Herein lies what should be our most telling objection to this unworthy scheme. Wal-Mart is not only anti-competition. It is virulently anti-union and anti-labor. It offers only minimum wages, woefully inadequate health care and retirement benefits. It exploits women and migrant workers. And it profits off the export of American jobs to overseas sweatshops in places like China, Bangladesh, and Honduras. Wal-Mart is not the sort of business Vallejo wants or needs. Hopefully, our trade unions and women's groups will voice that message loud and clear.
Were You Aware:
Here are just a few more facts you may wish to consider before Tuesday's City Council "study session." Were you aware
…that Wal-Mart, which creates its low prices on the backs foreign sweatshop laborers and non-unionized American "associates," has targeted California for dozens of its big box "supercenters?"
…that wherever Wal-Mart drops its super-sized parking lots, local businesses are put out of business, local workers lose decent jobs and benefits, and, over the long-haul, local city coffers come up short?
…that, having picked off American Canyon, Wal-Mart now has downtown Vallejo in its sights and seeks to build just such an enormous, nightmare-traffic-generating monstrosity on Sonoma Boulevard on the old K-Mart site?
…that, in order to do so, Wal-Mart seeks to force the city and county to rewrite the 1995/96 White Slough Specific Plan which restricts development on this environmentally sensitive site to low density mixed use planned development?
…that, to this end, Wal-Mart's agents have been in conversation with city officials for nearly a year and have engaged the services of local attorneys well-known in development circles to facilitate the process?
…that another developer is interested in building a more upscale, pedestrian-friendly mixed use project at the same location - one that combines housing and human-scale commercial development comporting with the beauty of the White Slough lagoon and the city's vision for a rehabilitated Sonoma Boulevard commercial corridor?
…that the Bullies from Bentonville seek to drive off this other developer and to strong arm the city council to knuckle under to their demands? "Don't get in their way," we've been warned, "They don't take 'No!' for an answer."
…that, if Wal-Mart gets its way with Vallejo, we can kiss off the upscale, forward looking development of our downtown, our waterfront, and Sonoma Boulevard itself? Vallejo's now bright future would slip into the darkness of the "cheap town" image that one Wal-Mart shopper described to the Times-Herald on March 24.
Does all this sound familiar? We've shown the out-of-town blue suits once before that Vallejoans don't take this sort of thing lying down. We can do it again!
What Can You Do? You Can:
...educate yourself by typing "Wal-Mart" into your computer search engine. You will be amazed by the flood of information about the predatory business practices of, the pending lawsuits against, and the settlements offered by this anti-union, anti-woman, immigrant-exploiting, local-business-busting monster.
…call Mayor Anthony Intintoli at 648-4377 and Council Members Gary Cloutier, Gerald Davis, Anthony Pearsall, Pamela Pitts, and Joanne Schively at 648-4575.
…express your views to the Vallejo Times-Herald which can be reached at: Readers Opinions, Times-Herald, P.O. Box 3188, Vallejo, CA 94590; 643-0128 (fax); or, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
…contact us, Vallejoans for Responsible Growth, at (707) 554-0672 or email@example.com, for information, petitions, and/or signs to place on your lawns or in your windows - residential and/or business.
…watch www.vickigray.com for up-to-date information.
…above all, attend the Vallejo City Council Study Session on the "Big Box" Issue, Tuesday, April 26, tentatively set for 5:00 p.m., at the City Council Chambers, 555 Santa Clara Street (at Georgia).
…at that meeting, thank especially Council Members Joanne Schively and Gary Cloutier for making it possible for us to express our views in the study session they helped bring about.
…and make it clear that Vallejoans don't want any more big boxes, but rather worker and consumer friendly businesses that jibe with our positive image of Vallejo's future. We are not "cheap town," but a vibrant city on the cusp of positive change consistent with our proud heritage.
VALLEJOANS FOR REPONSIBLE GROWTH
164 ROBLES DRIVE BOX # 125
VALLEJO, CA 94591-8039
"Preserving Vallejo's Future"