Thank you, everyone, for your thoughtful and honest feedback at our Town Hall Meeting, as well as on our local online news sites and at the most recent Council meeting. My ears are WIDE OPEN and I was very happy, this past Tuesday, for the opportunity to express the genuine concerns of our community that were shared at the Town Hall on the previous Thursday. If you didn’t attend the Town Hall, you missed an important opportunity.
At the ATC meeting, I was able to address the issue of how transfers from other WM stores would impact the 60+ jobs that were promised in our community; and, I was also able to advocate for the use of local Altadena (sorry, Pasadena doesn’t count) subcontractors to finish the build out, once Walmart takes over construction. I’m pleased to inform the public that Councilman Shackelford’s pressure on the developer produced an almost immediate request for local labor to perform the cleanup—a step in the right direction… If you are interested, please express your interest at www.BrentMusson.com/contact.
I remained after the ATC meeting until well past midnight to speak with several citizens who held a decidedly ant-Walmart position. The conversation was spirited and engaging, and prompted me to request further clarification from anyone who is a part of the “Save Altadena” movement or just independently opposed to the new market. Please consider the following four non-rhetorical questions so that the community may more fully understand your position. Please, also, indulge my commentary along with the questions—my intent is to provide context.
- Statistics and horror stories have been sited with regards to WM’s “scorched earth” business practices. Do any of these statistics apply to Walmart Neighborhood Markets, or are they specific to the big box stores?
- Please be honest and don’t answer too quickly… What do you want from Walmart Corp.? Concerned citizens across the US have put significant pressure on WM to become more responsible and stop decimating small towns with their oversized big box stores that carry everything from tires to Pepsi to Bermuda shorts and fishing poles at extraordinarily low prices. Walmart’s response to this pressure appears to be an undersized grocery store. If this isn’t viewed as a move in the right direction, it would seem that only WM’s bankruptcy would satisfy its opponents. Before you cheer too loudly, a WM bankruptcy would un-employ 2.2 million workers worldwide, over 1.5 million in the US alone.
- A common complaint is that WM maintains terrible working conditions and low pay. Are there any Altadena businesses, local or not, that pay unskilled workers over $12/hr., provide 401k and health insurance (with or without employee contribution,) or pay to train jobseekers to be interview-ready? Please don’t interpret this as rhetoric. I am asking a serious question, the answer to which is germane to the issue at hand.
- This is perhaps the most important question: If Walmart pulls out today, what is our Plan B? The building has been empty for most of the past two decades and of the 15 or so retailers that have been repeatedly encouraged (more like begged) to move in, all of them said “no” without hesitation. If there is a better plan, I wonder why it hasn’t been put into action all these many years…
PLEASE try not to read my questions as “pro-Walmart” rhetoric. They are not intended to rattle anyone or push any pro-Walmart agenda, rather they are my attempt to consolidate the inquiries of many West Altadena residents who are understandably skeptical about why some of their cross-town neighbors (and some local ones too) are now so passionate about our blighted corner after decades of neglect; and, why they are being asked to reject jobs and low cost food and medicine in an area with the lowest income and highest unemployment in Altadena. Following the news about WM’s plans to open on Lincoln, nobody opposed to the store contacted me; in fact, several meetings were held in South-West Altadena, to which I was not invited, though I’m connected by Facebook, phone and email to some of the organizers. One would like to believe that the elected representatives in an area would be some of the first and most important allies to any such cause. Walmart, however, reached out right away, and frankly they made a very compelling case; granted, I’ve been presented a one-sided argument. Your responses to these four questions will help me understand the other side of this important issue.
I have one last request. Please don’t let differences of opinion divide our community. As difficult as it may be, I encourage you to refrain from calling out individuals by name to complain or point blame. On almost any issue, there will be more than just your point of view—please be respectful to those with whom you do not agree.