Who is Lee Scott? He would probably prefer to be known simply as just another Wal-Mart “associate.” To the rest of us, however, he is well known as the very arrogant president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. which is intent on opening forty so-called “Supercenters,” each the size of several football fields, in California, six of them within 17-miles of my home in Vallejo. There are many things one could call such plans – “greed” and “megalomania” come quickly to mind.
In the process of pushing forward with its slash-and-burn tactics of bullying, suing, and greasing the local skids with money stained by the sweat of non-union sweat shop laborers, Wal-Mart is gobbling up the green spaces between our communities and trashing them from within.
“Wal-Mart doesn’t take ‘No’ for an answer,” one Vallejo city council member warned. Well, neither Lee Scott nor Wal-Mart knows Vallejo very well. Haven’t they heard we’ve got a citywide campaign going: “Don’t Trash My Town!”?
We don’t roll over easily for the big boys, be they from Bechtel or Bentonville, Shell or Shenzheng. We roll up our sleeves. And, as the following letter should suggest, we’ve just begun to fight.
VALLEJOANS FOR RESPONSIBLE GROWTH
164 ROBLES DRIVE BOX # 125
VALLEJO, CA 94591-8039
June 14, 2005
Mr. Lee Scott
President and CEO
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Bentonville, AR 72716-8611
Dear Mr. Scott:
This is an open letter – i.e., copies to the press - on behalf of the hundreds of Vallejoans, who have already signed our petition to this effect. I would like to inform you that Vallejoans for Responsible Growth:
Opposes any Wal-Mart “Supercenter” within the Vallejo city limits
and, in particular, at the old K-Mart site at Sonoma Boulevard and Redwood Street.
Urges Strict Adherence to the White Slough Specific Area Plan as approved by the Vallejo City Council on November 28, 1995 and the Solano County Board of Supervisors on January 9, 1996.
Simply put, a Wal-Mart “Supercenter” does not, in our view, comport with the economic interests of our city, proper land use, nor our vision of Vallejo as a desirable place to live in and to visit. We will do all in our power to ensure that Vallejo remains “Supercenter”-free.
In this regard, might I ask:
1.Whether and when Wal-Mart might apply for a building permit for a “Supercenter” in Vallejo?
2.Why does Wal-Mart feel it is necessary or might be profitable to open a “Supercenter” in Vallejo, given its already stated intentions to open such stores in Richmond, Hercules, Suisun City, Fairfield, American Canyon, - all within a 17-mile radius of the planned Vallejo store - and several other cities only slightly further afield? In particular, how would you differentiate the market served by the planned Vallejo store and that under construction in American Canyon, a city of maybe 4,000 families only 3.5 miles away?
3.How does Wal-Mart define “predatory” or “saturation” marketing?
4.Has Wal-Mart or its representatives hired or paid a fee to Al Lavezzo?
5.Have Wal-Mart’s public affairs representatives contacted any Vallejo City Council members ad seriatum or otherwise?
6.With whom, if anyone, in the Vallejo City Government have Wal-Mart’s representatives been in contact?
7.Will Wal-Mart be assigning a public relations representative to Vallejo? If so, what is the name of that person and when will s/he be arriving?
These are simple requests for factual information which we would have, in the normal course of events, addressed to Kevin Loscotoff, who has been described in the press over the last year as the “community affairs manager for Wal-Mart.” Unfortunately, however, despite his myriad conversations with the press, he has not been in touch with anyone that I’m aware of in the Vallejo community. Nor is there any information available about how to contact Mr. Loscotoff. Address? Telephone number?
Were I able to contact Mr. Loscotoff, I would tell him, among other things, that it does not help Wal-Mart’s case in this community which places high value on the dignity of honest labor to throw about one-liners characterizing considered opposition to Wal-Mart’s “Supercenters” as a “classic example of labor leaders using the court to subvert the will of the people as expressed by their elected leaders.” Has Wal-Mart never sued or otherwise sought to overturn “the will of the people as expressed by their elected leaders” in California city councils (e.g., Inglewood, Richmond, Hercules, Turlock, Lodi)?
I would also tell Mr. Loscotoff, as I tell you now, that I and/or others from the community would be available to appear with him before community organizations to discuss the issues surrounding a possible Wal-Mart “Supercenter.”
In closing, allow me to refer to your February 23 speech to Town Hall, Los Angeles. This is, indeed, “an auspicious moment” in which to engage in “the vital debate the country needs in the years ahead about the proper role of business and government in assuring that capitalism creates a decent society.” Let me echo your pledge: “When it comes to playing our part in these emerging debates, we intend to deliver.” Vallejoans for Responsible Growth will be there. Will Wal-Mart?
Vallejoans for Responsible Growth