Monday, June 25, 2012

Why Walmart Sucks

In 1999 the folks living in Eureka said they did not want a Walmart. Low, low prices were not worth the damage that irresponsible outside corporations bring to the community. They had seen what the corporate timber companies had done with their wanton disregard for our environment local economy and wanted no part of it.

Fast forward to 2012 after the local politicians conspired with Walmart to overturn the will of the people. In secret negotiations, facilitated by the staff of the city and county, that politicians are still covering up a Walmart was brought to town. When politicians fail us it is the responsibility of the community as a whole to step up and fix it.

The purpose of the initiative is to counter the war on working class people. Big box retailers move into the community and use cheap products manufactured with slave labor in places like China and Vietnam and the Us to undercut local stores. These local merchants driven out of business by Walmart lay off their employees. Jobs that Walmart replaces them with are lower paying driving people deeper into poverty forcing them to shop at the low price stores in a corporate self- feeding cycle that destroys the local community while destroying the planet.

Another insidious plan connected to Walmart and widely opposed by the local community comes from the Military Industrial Complex and imperialist government forces. The expansion of highway 101 through Richardson Grove State Park would increase access for larger trucks, (i.e. Walmart) and military vehicles up the coast. The desire to exert control and wring every penny of profit from the, “enterprise” of exploiting land and community would wipe out some of the few remaining old growth redwood trees on earth.

We have been unable to find out what the quid pro quo for the politicians as Public Records request regarding Walmart in Eureka has been ignored. A request made last year turned up one email from June 2011 that stated staff from the city had been working for 6 months on bringing Walmart here but no other documents. For anyone believing that a bureaucracy can work on anything for 6 months and not generate a paper trail I have some ocean view property in Colorado for you.

We say that we live behind the Redwood Curtain far away from the power centers of the state Our economy was already in free fall before the corporations crashed the economy in 2008 and we have been completely left out of any recovery. Our area is closing schools, laying off Nurses, 67 recently at the local hospital, and closing governmental offices in the afternoons to save money. This new wave of low wage jobs will simply put more stress on our local safety net as Walmart employees must still seek food stamps and housing assistance. With no benefits Walmart employees still get their health care at the expense of taxpayers in local emergency rooms. The $8.33 an hour wage the average Walmart associate earns won’t allow them to own homes or to save for their children's educations.

This is not how we strengthen our community. Shipping dollars to Arkansas will not help Eureka. This will leave us in the end with two big employers, big box retail and the prison industrial complex. The Fair Wage Initiative will shift some things around in favor of working class people. It is one part of the struggle for community and individual dignity, for the survival of the earth, and against corporate domination. Support the Eureka Fair Wage Initiative.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Throwing sand in the gears

Spent a couple of hours out at the beach waiting for some space to become available. Part of helping some folks put their lives together. Have to cop to the fact that we have not been very successful. We have far from failed but we still don't have a secure space for them to be in. Life continues to flow and the courts beckon for the next few days. Things have spun off in new directions and I am fatigued. What else is new.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My new gig

I am no longer in front of the courthouse with the Occupy Eureka sign flying. In the almost 9 months we have been there I have learned much. What I have learned most is that fighting a corrupt system takes more than most people can summon. I was glad that Sarah and Hans were there at the end of this phase as they were there at the beginning with me. So many others have fallen away.

I have moved to the next phase, solutions. For a long time I have been engaged like many in Occupy trying to educate the public about the reasons things suck. If you didn't already know that things sucked you are completely clueless or part of the cause or both. I have taken that as far as I can and now need to move on to fixing the problems. With the things I have learned and the comrades I have come to know we are engaging in the next step. First on the agenda is Walmart and their community destroying form of capitalism.

On WalMart's Opening Day, Residents Announce Intention to File "Eureka Fair Wage Initiative"

Contact: James Decker (707) 442-7465

Eureka, CA: Members of Occupy Eureka and Peoples' Action for Rights and Community, along with other concerned residents, are announcing today their intention to file the Eureka Fair Wage Initiative.

"WalMart has come to our community, against the will of the voters, to drive down wages and benefits for working people," says Veteran for Peace, Don Swall. With this initiative the voters will have a chance to say "NO." NO to outside corporations putting downward pressure on local wages. NO to the closing of locally owned businesses. NO to the blight that WalMart and other Big Box retailers bring to small towns across America.

The Eureka Fair Wage Initiative will require employers to pay a minimum of $12 an hour to all of their workers, with an exception for smaller businesses. The initiative is a simple, straightforward proposal to keep stingy companies from killing jobs in the community that pay a decent wage. It will keep more of those dollars here in Eureka California, rather then flying our money to Bentonville Arkansas.

Eureka residents said "NO" to WalMart at the ballot box before, but through secretive deals and backroom negotiations the City government and WalMart have undermined the will of the people. This leaves working class people no choice but to take matters out of the hands of politicians, more concerned with personal enrichment then the enrichment of the community, and take to the initiative process. The Initiative planning group invites persons interested in signature gathering or making other types of contributions to call (707) 442-7465.

We left behind the folks that had nowhere else to be and it took the police about 4 hours to come down and hit them with an order to vacate in 72 hours. This shows what a bunch of cowards run this county as well as anything we did. It is too early to write an assessment of what we did and the Monday morning quarterbacks will be lining up to tell us what we did wrong soon enough. All I can say for now is that I will continue the battle in a new form.