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2002-11-02
Easton, MD. Home Depot Spends $150,000 On November 5th. Ballot Question

On May 5, 2001, Newsflash reported that Home Depot was pushing the town of Easton, Maryland to allow its retail store to locate in a "Limited Industrial Zone". Local permit boards denied that request, so Home Depot decided to put the issue on the ballot, writing Bill 808, or Question "C" on the ballot as their own form of designer zoning. And in consistent big box fashion, Home Depot is now unleashing its corporate treasury to get the best voter outcome that the company can buy. According to state records, a group called "Yes on C for Talbot County's Future" received a check from Home Depot for $150,000. Home Depot is the only "citizen" to give money to this front group. Not a single resident of Talbot county saw fit to contribute one penny to Home Depot's little "astro-roots" group. Local residents who are fighting this plan, the Citizens for Sound Growth have raised $3,000, of which $2,000 came from the local Talbot Preservation Alliance. So Home Depot is outspending local residents by 50 to 1. The Home Depot front group has spent some of its largesse on full color postcards to all voters which promise that Home Depot will 1) create 200 new jobs, 2) "generate nearly $500,000 per year in new tax revenue" for the county, which would provide new money for local schools, and 3) lead to "increased competition in the area". None of these claims are independently substantiated, but Home Depot's spending a bundle to promote them. The company also mysteriously claims that a Home Depot will protect Talbot county's "charm". No explanation is given. Not only does the ballot question allow Home Depot to locate retail in a light industrial zone, it makes it easier for all developers to get zoning permits at the town staff level. Trying to stop Home Depot is the "Citizens for Sound Growth Committee for Resolution 92 and Against Bill 808." Resolution 92 changes the county's charter to give the Planning Commission power to approve or deny major commercial and industrial site plans, instead of just being an advisory body. Home Depot wants the Planning Commission to continue only in an advisory role. The company's ballot question represents a corporation's attempts to change a community's zoning rules to benefit the company. "Let's tell them our county is not for sale," the Citizens for Sound Growth Commmittee said in a recent ad.

What you can do: For multiple examples of how companies like Home Depot and Wal-Mart try to buy elections with money, search this Newsflash database by the word "ballot" or "vote". For more information on the Easton situation, go to www.TalbotElection.com.










 
 
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