On Dec 7, Pearl Harbor Day, over 100 residents listened as an invader threated to bring absolute devastation to Georgia Ave. Wal-Mart's rep didn't even show up as others trumpeted the "economic miracle" of Wal-Mart to a mostly outraged crowd.
Landowner Foulger-Pratt laid out plans for a Wal-Mart just 6 blocks from the Safeway, on a street traditionally known for small independant businesses. Wal-Mart's representative did not even bother to show up no doubt feeling, as did much of the room, that the plans are a "done deal."
This "community input" meeting came on the heels of an earlier meeting between Wal-Mart, ANC commissioners, landowner Foulger-Pratt, and Councilmember Bowser. Wal-Mart has stated they want to meet with the public ONLY in "small breakout groups," not in large groups where public outrage can build.
Opponents of Wal-Mart stressed that Wal-Mart may plan to "build by right" meaning it would be necessary to change laws to stop them, but that, like in many other communities, Wal-Mart is NEVER a done deal, and community organizing has stopped them before and can stop them again. Foe instance, a time-honored way to close a Wal-Mart is to organize a union there. Every time this has been done, Wal-Mart has closed down that store and left. Some in the audience asked what would happen if Wal-Mart abandoned the old Chevy dealer site once more in response to a sucessful unionization.
When landowner Foulger-Pratt's representatives promised that Wal-Mart would do plenty of "screening and buffering" to protect the community from their noise and general blight, outraged members of the community replied that it seemed the "screening and buffering" was being done instead right there in the meeting!
DC Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser showed up very late, citing budget hearings. Once she arrived, however, it soon became evident she was for the opening of Wal-Mart, at one point opposing the argument of Wal-Mart's extremely low wages with the alternative of "no wages." Another time, she said Wal-Mart would spark "economic revitalization. This leave out that the same number of grocery jobs would be lost by the near-certain closure of the Safeway as would be gained in Wal-Mart, for over $4 an hour less. The same pattern would hold true for other jobs lost as Wal-Mart displaced other businesses all over Ward 4 and beyond.
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