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Monday, April 22, 2013

Wal-Mart Not the Answer for the Golden Mile

George Wenschhof

It was disheartening, upon my arrival home, to hear of plans for a Wal-Mart to be the latest savior for the Fredericktown Mall, a mall that has been beset with misfortune.

During, my visit to Sonoma County, California, I attended an organized community effort to block a planned Wal-Mart expansion in Rohnert Park.

Interestingly, the opposition invited Robert Reich; chancellor's professor of public policy at UC Berkeley who also served as labor secretary from 1993 to 1997 under President Bill Clinton to speak at a rally they had organized.

Reich used the opportunity to highlight problems with the economy and to emphasize the makeup of our communities and society is still decided by the people who live in them.

Often repeating the “we the people” preamble, of the U.S. Constitution Bill of Rights, Reich urged those in attendance to “take back our economy and take back our democracy”.

Specifically addressing Wal-Mart and their claim to be a job creator, Reich said the global retailer is a "net job destroyer" when it arrives in communities, adding “that for every job they created, 1.4 jobs were lost in the surrounding area”.

The typical worker at the nation's largest employer Wal-Mart makes $8.81 an hour Reich said, and as a result of their low paying jobs, Wal-Mart employees were more likely to live in less expensive suburbs, adding to congestion on the highways.

Many factors have contributed to the tarnish now existing on the once “golden mile” area in The City of Frederick.

The hard work put forward by members of the community, the Golden Mile Alliance, and others to develop a vision for the future, should not be discarded on the basis of an alleged purchase offer made by Wal-Mart.

Thankfully, the city planning commission, in a 4-1 vote, denied the latest proposed zoning change made by the owner of the Fredericktown Mall.

Hopefully, the city board of aldermen will also deny the request.

If anything, hard work needs to be continued to ensure efforts made to revitalize the once vibrant golden mile is well researched with the entire community in mind and with an eye to the future.
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