Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Graffiti-Ridden Eyesore Will Be Preserved a While Longer

As you may recall, I attended the September 24 City Council special session on the Wal-Mart issue, but was unable to attend last night's session.

Andrea Bennett of the Daily Bulletin brought me up to date:

The City Council heard testimony Tuesday night from residents regarding a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter and continued hearing on the [matter] to an undetermined date.

Mayor Paul Leon announced the continuation, which was due to a miscommunication between the city and the Daily Bulletin regarding the size of the latest public notice advertisement.

You'll recall that at the September meeting, Cory Briggs made noise about the notice for that meeting, stating that it was noncompliant and unfair, bla bla bla. Apparently there are still issues about the size of the advertisement. I suggest that the City take out a full page ad in the Daily Bulletin and print in big letters:

We're meeting next Tuesday. Deal with it.

Then Andrea Bennett made a misstatement about the September meeting:

At the Sept. 24 council hearing, Planning Director Jerry Blum gave the city's argument in favor of the supercenter and fewer than half of the 63 residents who wished to speak were able to.

The way that Bennett wrote the story, it's implied that all 63 of us (yes, I spoke) were waiting around until 10:00. What really happened is that once Leon announced that a second session would be held on October 9, several things happened:

  • Some people said that they would wait until October 9 to speak.

  • Some people left the meeting before their name was called, knowing that they'd get a chance to speak on the 9th.

  • Some people may never have been there in the first place. My wife, who has lived in Ontario for 29+ years, heard the names of several people being called that she never saw at any time during the September 24 session.
Although I do have to admit that if all 63 people HAD been there, they couldn't have all spoken on September 24. But everyone who wanted to speak on the 24th did speak; Bennett's short paragraph didn't clarify that.

Apparently I missed a good exchange at the meeting, in which a Wal-Mart representative spoke about civilization. Yes, civilization.

San Diego-based attorney Cory Briggs spoke about the air quality impacts of the project and how air pollution has been proven to have serious health effects on children. Briggs said air quality concerns alone were reason enough to reject the project.

Mark Ostich, representing Wal-Mart Stores Inc., responded by saying Briggs' presentation was "really more of an indictment on our civilization than our stores."

Briggs and his supporters (real supporters in this case) do have a valid point regarding the argument that stuff is bad, and Wal-Mart wouldn't make it THAT much worse. One could argue that any deterioration of air quality below a minimum level is simply unacceptable.

Yet, on the other hand, rejection of Wal-Mart's application won't solve the basic problem - Ontario is a polluted cesspool. Hey, we've got to face it. Cory Briggs says its pollution levels are too high, and even the city admits that its pollution levels are too hight. Now perhaps the Chamber of Commerce isn't trumpeting this fact, but it's now in the public record.

So perhaps instead of opening new businesses, we should be closing the old ones.

You can't deny that closure of the Albertsons would increase the air quality of northwest Ontario. Sure, it would inconvenience the residents and put some UFCW workers out of work, but if pollution is an important enough concern to keep Wal-Mart out of northwest Ontario, then perhaps Albertson's shouldn't be there either.

And don't get me started about City Rentals. The people of northeast Ontario shouldn't have to suffer the pollution that comes from that outfit.

Um...I do have some other suggestions, of course.

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