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2005-09-01
Westminster, CO. Wal-Mart Superstore Will Go to Voters In November

Wal-Mart will be running again for office, this time on the November ballot in Westminster, Colorado. Opponents of a new supercenter on Sheridan Boulevard convinced their City Council to place the matter before voters. Mayor Nancy McNally told the Rocky Mountain News, "My greatest concern is the community that's divided. I want to get this on the ballot so we can get to healing the community down there." The City Council has already agreed to rezone land and change its comprehensive plan to suit Wal-Mart. But Westminster residents began collecting thousands of signatures to force the issue onto the ballot. Opponents were seeking a special election to draw voters' attention to this key issue, but the City Council scheduled the vote for a November general election, which anti Wal-Mart forces fear will dilute the issue. Wal-Mart continued to tell Westminster residents that their 204,000 s.f. superstore will create 300 new jobs, provide $250,000 in property tax revenue and generate about $1 million in sales tax revenue.

What you can do: Here are two major flaws with this story: all the jobs and revenue figures quoted by Wal-Mart are gross figures, as if Wal-Mart operated in a total economic vaccum, affecting no other existing businesses in the Westminster trade area. Newspapers repeat these figures without questioning them. The net jobs and revenue levels can actually sink into the red once offsetting losses at other merchants are factored in. Second, the Mayor is naive to think that a ballot vote will "heal" the community. Wal-Mart has been known to spend a quarter of a million dollars and up on these ballot questions, as if throwing money for votes will "heal" any of the rift that now exists in Westminster. These votes never resolve anything, and the future growth and character of Westminster will continue to be a contentious issue as long as the City Council keeps pushing extreme developments like a huge supercenter the size of four football fields. Voters in Westminster better strap on their seat belts now, because they are going to be hit with a barrage of phone calls, direct mailings, newspaper ads, radio spots, and corporate spending by Wal-Mart in the run-up to this election. It's called corporate democracy, since there is no limit on "citizen" Wal-Mart's spending on these ballot questions. In a Wal-Mart democracy, the party with the most dollars wins. The retailer apparently believes that Westminster is for sale to the highest bidder, and that voters are for sale. For earlier stories on votes that Wal-Mart has lost, search Newsflash by "ballot."










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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