Saturday, July 22, 2006

Wal to Wal Chicago blogging

Former Illinois State Representative Cal Skinner has his take on Wal-Mart. He focuses on the short-sightedness of Chicago's public officials in regards to the retail giant.

So, imposing restrictions on a private enterprise like Wal-Mart, compelling it not to build new stores in Chicago hurts not only:

· the residents who might get the jobs,
· the city that will not get the sales tax,
· the schools which will not get the property tax, but it also hurts
· the CTA

And, it increases the pressure on Chicago politicians to raid the revenue sources of the suburbs--still again--in order to feed the seeming insatiable financial appetite of the Chicago Transit Authority.

Cal also refers to John Kass' Friday Chicago Tribune column about Wal-Mart. Kass' beat is local politics, not business, but Wal-Mart's opponents, mostly unions, have made Wal-Mart a major political issue in the Second City. Next Wednesday, a vote is scheduled by Chicago's City Council on a "living wage" ordinance for "big box" stores. The bill's sponsor, Joe "No Foie Gras for Me" Moore drafted it with Wal-Mart in mind. The way the bill is written, the "living wage" requirement will only apply to Wal-Mart, Target, and Home Depot. Using Moore's logic, all other retailers in Chicago are free to pay their workers "unlivable wages."

From Kass's column, free registration may be required:

Politics abhors a vacuum. And what's filling it is organized labor. The labor unions are reasserting themselves, committing money and political workers to the election of labor-friendly aldermen. Included in this new effort is a new wrinkle: aldermanic schools, where candidates can learn how to win.

You might call it the Academy of You Want to Be an Alderman? But I'd call it the Institute of Do You Wanna Stay in Office?

"We're supporting the living-wage ordinance very strongly. Some aldermen are saying, `Hey, they're threatening us.' We're not. But isn't this how politics works?" Tom Balanoff asked. He's president of Service Employees International Union Local 1, one of the most influential labor leaders in the state, with some 32,000 workers.

"We're using the aldermanic schools to help get our members active, to teach them how politics impacts their lives," Balanoff told me. "Quite frankly, there haven't been a lot of serious aldermanic races lately, and some aldermen don't take seriously the concerns of unions. I think they'll start taking things seriously."

SEIU is the primary funding source for the Wal-Mart Watch, an anti Wal-Mart web site. Alderman Joe Moore is a recent winner of Wal-Mart Watch's "Person of the Week" honor.

That honor was not overlooked by a resident of his ward, blogger Thomas Westgard, who added this comment on the thread dedicated to Moore's Person of the Week award:

Joe Moore is off-base with his Wal-Mart activities. He's been allowing himself to be used by national Democrats to throw these trial balloons up, Wal-Mart being one, his foie gras ban for another. These are distractions, as far as I'm concerned.

The problem is that he's been neglecting the basics at home. He screwed over a local group that was trying to provide local job training, dropped the ball on a threatened landfill on our lakefront, and uses his membership on the City's healthcare committee to accomplish jack squat. This ward is federally recognized as "medically underserved," and we have some of the least access to medical care in the City.

(My note...which is amazing, since Moore's ward is one of the most densely populated sections of Chicago.)
If Joe wants to fight with Wal-Mart, let him go ahead and do so, but he should tend to matters at home first. I keep a running watch on him and his crew at my blog.

But he's kept Chicago, except for one store, Wal-Mart free.

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