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2005-09-17
Santa Fe, NM. Will Robertís Rules Of Order Stop Wal-Mart?

Residents in Sante Fe, New Mexico are hoping that a parliamentary rule book will stop a Wal-Mart supercenter from replacing the smaller Wal-Mart the city already has. Last month, the Santa Fe City Council voted to give conditional approval to the project -- but their vote came after a series of questionable legal moves. The Coalition Against Big Box Stores (CABBS), which includes former U.S. Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, also a former Congressman from Arizona, and father of a Congressman from New Mexico, told reporters this week that the City Council first voted on August 15th. 5-4 against the plan. But then the mayor and council reconsidered their vote, and granted conditional approval. Mayor Larry Delgado is supposed to vote only in the case of a deadlock on the eight-member council. Delgado voted at first with the 4 opponents on the council, saying he needed more information about the traffic impacts. But in two subsequent votes, the mayor flip-flopped and voted to reconsider the denial, and then to approve the plan if a traffic study was submitted within a month. CABBS charges that under Robert's Rules of Order, which the City Council has adopted, only a councilor who voted for the plan can move for reconsideration of a vote. The councilor who asked for reconsideration was originally against the plan, and could not make his motion. The councilor in question said he changed his initial vote before the motion to reconsider, so that he could then ask that it be reconsidered. In the meantime, Wal-Mart has now submitted a new traffic plan, which of course will conclude that the project improves traffic flow, not congests it.


What you can do: The City Council can still vote to kill this plan, based on adverse traffic impacts. The City council has the right to ask for a peer review of the new Wal-Mart traffic plan, but may just accept Wal-Mart's self-serving plan as presented. It is hard to grasp why City Councils in this sort of dilemma, turn to the developer to provide more traffic information, when what they need is an independent look at what really will happen. Whatever the traffic outcome, CABBS has said their group is prepared to litigate if the rezoning is approved this month. CABBS should also insist on enough time to conduct its own "peer review" of the new traffic plan. For earlier stories, search Newsflash by "Santa Fe."










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

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