Tigard, Oregon. Anti-Wal-Mart Activists Call For Community-Wide Boycott of Wal-Mart
After the city of Tigard, Oregon approved a Wal-Mart supertore, opponents did not go away. The group Tigard First announced this week a "new incarnation" of the group which was originally founded seven yaars ago.
The focus of the original Tigard First group was the controversial proposed 137,000 s.f. Wal-Mart. Despite repeated inquiries from citizens and businesses at the time, the City denied that a Wal-Mart was being planned there, and continued to do so until the development was announced as a Wal-Mart superstore - and as a "done deal" -last year, the citizen's group said in a press release. "The lack of transparency from City leaders has been a great concern to many area residents and businesses."
Tigard First's new goal will be to help citizens concerned about local issues be better-informed, get-involved, and get-active in their local governments. "As we work on the Tigard Wal-Mart issue, we find that there are numerous other issues in this area besides the Wal-Mart development that need added transparency & attention."
Tigard First represents the many Tigard-area residents who are concerned about livability issues in their communities -- constant traffic congestion, air & water quality, crime, and a reduction in residential property values.
The citizen group quotes Tigard Mayor John L. Cook as saying: "Tigard is built on small business." The Mayor said that if the citizens don't like the Wal-Mart or any other business, they should vote with their dollars. "While we are reasonably certain he was not endorsing our community-wide boycott of the new Tigard Walmart," Tigard First writes, "you would need to ask him directly about that. We certainly encourage you to engage the Tigard Mayor, City Council and Tigard Area Chamber of Commerce about the new Wal-Mart and other developments, and whether or not their planned future for Tigard actually includes support of 'small business'."
This week, radio station KOIN carried a story in which Tigard First charged that the city approved the Wal-Mart without allowing public comment, and that the project was an economic loser for the community. "Wal-Mart has a history of many, many of their employees ending up becoming dependent on public assistance," said Karen Crichton, a spokesperson for Tigard First, "because they don't make a living wage."
Tigard officials bristled at the charge that they approved the superstore secretly. "The Tigard First concern [is] it was never identified in those hearings as a Wal-Mart, but that's not uncommon," said Liz Newton, Tigard's assistant city manager.
"Why is the city not supporting the businesses that are already here," Tigard Firstg asked, "[instead of bringing] in a business that is known to bring down local economies, bring down wages?"
Target was the original big box store proposed for the site, but the giant retailer pulled out, allowing Wal-Mart to quietly be substituted in its place. The city says it made it clear to Wal-Mart that they must live with the conditions imposed on Target's plan, or face going through a new public hearing process.
Tigard First maintains that the public hearings that were held on this site plan were focused on Target, and that the public should have been notified of the switch. The city aserts that it was not required to reveal who the retailer is. They clearly understood that making Wal-Mart go public would have triggered significant public opposition.
What you can do: Readers can find Tigard First at:
Activists are urged to phone Tigard Mayor John Cook at 503-639-4171 with the following message:
"Dear Mayor Cook,
The motto of your city is 'A Place To Call Home.' Now Wal-Mart can call Tigard their home. This bait and switch project came as a total surprise to most of your residents.
Residents have been fighting Wal-Mart since 2006, and on your watch the superstore was approved. You should take steps now to limit the size of the Wal-Mart. You can help make sure that no more big bo stores find Tigard 'a place to call home.'"