Sunday, August 20, 2006

Another Portland Wal-Mart Site?, and Other Effluvia

You just can't keep a good monolithic, devouring corporate juggernaut down, and so getting waxed like dad's Corvette in Beaverton wasn't likely to make WalMart pull up its speculative stakes and leave the Portland region. There's a site over in Big Box land by Rte 217 that Bentonville Bob is reputedly eyeing, and Tigard's mayor is not thrilled. Activists have been putting the heat on at City Hall, despite no application even pending yet.

Portland Commissioner Sam Adams is by far the most vocal opponent to Wal-Mart, and he keeps his blog updated regularly on the battles. Thursday one of his blogwriters identified another potential site, in Upper NE near the airport on top of a landfill. 240,000 square feet!! Jee-sus.

I'm still interested in the Hayden Island fight The Merc reported on, and that story's not done yet; Tuesday The Trib posted something of a rebuttal, making the residents out to be some kind of lost DoubleWide tribe where time has stood anthropologically still:
The 71-year-old twin sisters, who live in a bright blue double-wide trailer on Hayden Island, would love to shop at a Wal-Mart down the street rather than trek to the one in Vancouver, Wash., by bus every week or so for cheap groceries.

“They have almost anything you need,” said Boreland, who’s lived at the mobile home park just west of the Jantzen Beach SuperCenter since 1978. “The prices are good. We get good service there, and they’re good about returning things. On the island we don’t have a store like that.”
One of the main points against a Hayden location is that the traffic is already bad and would become abysmal to intolerable, especially during rush hour as the cars stream back and forth across the Columbia. And that traffic includes things like emergency vehicles. I had the opportunity to look over EMS and Fire responses to the island by Portland Fire for the last two years, and the response times are already slow--almost two minutes slower than the optimal time from dispatch to arrival. There's only one way in or out, and even off the ramps the streets are tight and winding. I'm going to assume that a lot of those residents are "honored citizens," who need emergency services more often than others. Notably increasing already-slow times to the island couldn't be a worse idea.

Finally in the "better vetting necessary" file, WalMart spokesman Andrew Young, the former mayor of Atlanta, went waaaaay off the rez in an interview:
Following what he later called "racist shorthand," Young has quit his post as the head of "Working Families for Wal-Mart." In an interview with Thursday's Los Angeles Sentinel, he defended the charge that Wal-Mart runs mom-and-pop stores out of business saying "those are the people who have been overcharging us."

The rub came in his elucidation: "I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs, very few black people own these stores."
Oh, man. I thought racial code words were supposed to be, y'know, coded. Keep up the good work, Andrew!