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blue bollards

July 27, 2010
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The City Council is supposed to vote tonight on the Walmart expansion project. I don’t have much hope; insanity reigns.

This is not about whether or not to have a Walmart– this is about transforming the one that already exists into a monster.

I went to the Planning Commission meeting a couple of months back. I’m still reeling from that.

The audience was packed with Walmart supporters. Most of them turned out to be Walmart employees. The official agenda featured a sequence of Walmart spokespeople. PR people, project managers, all had a chance to present their case, with Power Point.

We heard a lot about attractive shopping centers built in “the prairie style.” About the remarkable suburban esthetics of the proposed expansion. About blue bollards. Repeatedly.

Then there were the pro-Walmart private citizens. Most, as I said, were employees– many of them members of one particular manager’s “team.” Some were employees’ children.

“Thank-you Walmart for donating play equipment– now we can have recess.”

Other themes: Walmart lets me sell children cheap toys, which brings tears to my eyes because children are our future. Walmart lets me “grow:” no other company would do that. Walmart didn’t fire me when my son was ill: no other company would do that.

Really? No other company?

A couple of supporters were not employees. America is capitalism. America is competition. America is consumerism, and nothing else. If you don’t want a newer, bigger Walmart, you don’t love America.

And besides, the project should only be judged on its “merits.” Meaning whether or not you’re partial to blue bollards.

This made it somewhat difficult to speak in opposition. The whole session was structured to facilitate a Walmart media slam, complete with Walmart Newspeak.

Walmart is oppressed. Walmart is being “singled out.” Walmart is being prevented from creating new jobs.

Walmart is the victim of special interests.

In case you’re still in doubt about their sad condition, they sent a glossy mailer:

Special interests are manipulating Antioch’s planning process and it’s preventing Walmart from creating new jobs, generating new revenue for vital city services and increasing choice for local consumers.

Their biggest argument? “Convenient One-Stop Shopping.”

There’s another name for one-stop shopping. It’s “monopoly.”

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