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1999-08-12
Eureka, CA. Wal-Mart Off the Hook In Eureka.

"We're mortified." "We're appalled that it happened." That's how Wal-Mart responded to complaints from citizens in Eureka, CA, who objected to being called countless times by a telemarketing company hired by a Wal-Mart campaign contractor to promote a rezoning ballot question that Wal-Mart helped place on the August 24th. ballot. So-called "Measure J", written by Wal-Mart, calls for the rezoning of industrial waterfront land in Eureka to be converted to commercial designation to allow a Wal-Mart big box superstore. Apparently Wal-Mart's minions got so carried away with their voter identification calling, that they were calling people early in the morning, and kept right on pounding away. Eureka resident Linda Hanrahan told the Times-Standard newspaper that she received no less than 11 phone calls from Wal-Mart's polling agent. The handicapped woman said she had to increase her medication dose to stay calm during the Wal-Mart onslaught. Hanrahan was waiting to hear if her cancer-stricken father had died overnight, but instead all she received on Sunday was a phone attack by Wal-Mart. "It just shattered me on Sunday," Hanrahan said, "that someone would be so callous." So many complaints were raised, that Wal-Mart sent out a letter to residents apologizing "for any inconvenience we might have caused you or your family." The letter admits that many voters "received repeated phone calls, some at very inconvenient times." "This is not the way we do business," Wal-Mart said, announcing that they had terminated the phone bank service that had been hired. The headline in the Times Standard newspaper read: WAL MART HITS CITY WITH CALLS, and an editorial in the paper said "NO THANKS -- to Wal-Mart's continued antics when it comes to polling residents of Eureka on the upcoming Measure J vote. Not only have telephone polsters misrepresented the issues of the measure, but they've been calling people at unacceptable hours...What kind of impression is Wal-Mart trying to leave on these 'targeted' people? Apologies notwithstanding, you'd expect a company with unlimited financial resources to ensure its polling firm was performing its duties correctly and ethically." Wal-Mart's overzealous phoning was not the only problem facing the company. An economic impact report on their proposed superstore released in draft form suggests that 80% of Wal-Mart's sales will come from other businesses, and that in the first year of the project the community's net gain would be less than three-tenths of 1% increase to the general fund revenue base in town. Not much to write (or call) home about.

What you can do: Wal-Mart hopes to win the August 24th vote in Eureka, and has been spending a king's ransom to try and convince area residents that industrial land should be down-zoned for their uses. On election day, voters of Eureka will finally have their opportunity to "hang up" on Wal-Mart. The "Yes on J" Committee is short for the full title of the group: "Eureka Citizens, Businesses and Wal-Mart Stores for Responsible Economic Planning." A long-winded version of a group nearly fully financed top to bottom, by Wal-Mart. The slogan at the Yes on J committee should be: "Don't call us...we'll call you, and call you, and call you."










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

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