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Mission elapsed time: T + 35 and counting*

"My little body is weary of this great world."-- Portia, The Merchant of Venice.

Since it's Friday, I must soon throw myself into the glittering whirl of my social life, and so this post will be short; I'll do a zeitgeist watch from my local coffee shop. But first, what I can find on Walmart--

CA. Walmart: "The UFCW is focusing on the Bay Area because that's where Walmart is just starting to open a new category of smaller stores -- Walmart Neighborhood Markets -- that will compete directly with unionized grocers such as Safeway and Lucky, Henneberry said."

FL. Walmart: "The 75 employees marched up and down the sidewalk for about two hours on the street near the Walmart Supercenter at 2551 Hallandale Beach Blvd. Customers watched from the parking lot. Two joined the protest. Many of the Walmart employees at the protest were members of national group the Organization United for Respect at Walmart, which is associated with the UFCW. The group is called 'OUR Walmart.'"

MA. Walmart: ""We'll be back. We'll be back,' chanted the eight people loosely calling themselves OUR Walmart and Warehouse Workers for Justice before walking outside, holding signs and delivering their message at the New Harbour Mall store in the South End [in Fall River]. Locally, there have been protests in Dartmouth, Raynham and Fall River the past few months over Walmart's labor practices." Note well that last sentence. Even if we don't know about those actions, you can be very sure that Walmart executives do.

OK. Walmart: "The recent trend of Walmart walkouts that has captured attention of the national media will not rear its head in Chickasha according to Walmart spokesperson Dan Fogleman. Fogleman said those that showed up to protest in Bentonville are union back and funded. 'They were paid to fly down here and show their obvious agenda,' he said." That's some PR operation they've got there. … Fracking? " Developmental interests are still booming in Chickasha. Four businesses have decided to build in Chickasha including Interurban, GameStop, Boomerang and Dollar Tree. There is also a lot of interest in well services, oil and gas development, according to [Ryan Posey, president of the Chickasha Area Economic Development Council]." (Yes, fracking). Pretty funny go to looking for Walmart and find fracking.

TX. Walmart: "About 90 workers walked off their jobs from 12 cities on Wednesday including Dallas, Miami, Orlando, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles. Others walked off their shifts in TN and KY." Note again that last sentence.

Outside baseball. Walmart: "Striking workers and national OUR Walmart leaders said the group has committed to engaging in a wide range of nonviolent activities on Black Friday, including rallies, flash mobs, direct action, and other efforts to inform customers about what they call the illegal actions that Wal-Mart has been taking against its workers. The group also garnered support from various other organizations, including the National Organization for Women and the National Consumers League."

Media critique:

Each of the uprisings over the last few years has had a distinctive media flavor (which is not necessarily the dominant flavor for those on the ground, or for future historians; but as a stone media processor, that's what I notice). The events of Egypt had the Al Jazeera camera trained on the square; Occupy has streamers and twitter; the events in Thailand a year before Tahrir Square had community radio and loudspeakers.

The Walmart actions -- I hesitate to say strike, or union, because strikes are a subset of non-violent action, and associations are not unions -- have a different feeling still. Most of the national reporting (of which there is not much) seems to have sourced a single conference call. But as we've seen in the last few days, there's a good deal of local, and factual, reporting, some of it by local TV stations, amazingly enough. And there seems to be a concerted effort on Patch, also factual.

And note one interesting thing about the stories excerpted today: We keep hearing about new stores, and (as the underlined and as yet not reported actions show) nobody in the press seems to be quite sure how big this thing is. The hard numbers I believe, come from the conference call; but there are other actions also. I have the feeling -- and in the words of the great Peggy Noonan, "It would be irresponsible not to speculate" -- that OUR Walmart is a lot like a duck, paddling along: Lots of motion unseen under the surface. (And it sure is odd that Walmart announced that keen new program to get people with spinal trouble surgery right after these actions kicked off, isn't it? Though to be fair, it would be a heck of a lot more… Well, ethical to have working conditions that didn't wreak people's spines in the first place.) We shall see!

* * *

To the coffee shop: The owner, Mrs. Schadenfreude, runs the local wire service, so I stopped in there tonight to get the news.

MRS. S: Another one!

LAMBERT: What do you mean?

MRS. S: Bob Kennedy!

It turns out she was discussing this story: "Robert A. Kennedy, who resigned [as President of UConn] earlier Friday under pressure from the governor and lawmakers amid a scrap over secret pay raises for staff members totaling more than $250,000." Our local university had delivered over a grotesquely swollen sack of lucre to this sucking leech of an administrator -- sorry for the redundancy -- before he slithered off to even richer pickings at UConn, and during his very short tenure he managed to alienate the university's largest donor, and entered into an unseemly menage with our local landfill operator.

MRS. S: That's three!

LAMBERT: Three?

MRS. S: Kennedy, Sandusky, and Lance Armstrong!

So, you can see people connecting the dots on elite corruption. Alas, Mrs. Schadenfeude's list didn't include any banksters. I guess Obama really did stand between them and the pitchforks. Thanks, "progressives"!

* Slogan of the day: To Live With One's Nose Barely Above Water Is Glorious! Forward With The Obama!

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Submitted by cg.eye on

a Denver neighborhood held the line:

Fuqua's plan to have Walmart as the anchor of the mixed-use project ran aground when City Councilwomen Mary Beth Susman and Jeanne Robb said they would not support tax-increment financing for the project. Fuqua needed the public financing to help pay for demolition and infrastructure.

Considering how city and state officials usually roll over for Walmart, it was very remarkable that the City Council voted down incentives, which forced the Sembler-offshoot developer to proceed without Walmart -- something he previously said would ruin the project, since Walmart was his last resort. Even this boot-licking lackey of corporatism gives grudging respect to the grassroots (I hope!) campaign:

Now wait a minute, you may protest. Didn't this columnist mock some opponents of Walmart two months ago under the title "Too good for Walmart"? Sure, I did. And they deserved it for their smug, elitist and ill-informed claims. But I never suggested neighborhood sentiment should be dismissed, or that council members should vote for tax-increment financing in the face of overwhelming taxpayer opposition.

Funny, though, how Fuqua will proceed with demolition anyway (of many perfectly-good buildings, by the by) -- probably to create an eyesore that will weaken neighborhood resolve. Is it irresponsible, to speculate....

That 'elitist' population of which the flunky speaks are working class to middle class residents, retirees and healthcare professionals; the Univ. of Colorado Health Sciences Center was the biggest healthcare complex in Denver (and possibly Colorado), until they turned tail in response to Philip Anschutz' cash and a location closer to Fitzsimmons Hospital. (Denver also lost its Children's Hospital courtesy to his philanthropy; Denver's kids now seek care in the Children's Hospital-licensed clinics in the HealthOne for-profit chain.)

So, those residents already lost something very substantial economically, and they're smart enough to see that Walmart is the retail tentacle of the vampire squid. Also, other supermarket chains (also anti-union, but not as rapacious) are pursuing nearby real-estate deals, from Trader Joe's (German hypermarket subsidiary) and Sprouts (a junior Whole Foods clone), so it's not their fight doomed residents to future growth of a food desert.

Submitted by cg.eye on

I thought the main source for news from the the Stop Walmart perspective wasn't online -- but behold:

Devastating Defeat For Mayor Hancock

The likely death of Fuqua’s Walmart deal comes as a surprise. On August 12 in a serious breach of Mayor/City Council etiquette, Mayor Michael Hancock emailed a message to all Denver City Council members throwing his weight behind the Walmart development and associated tax subsidies declaring the city could not “risk the loss of a dedicated developer” and ominously warned that Denver “cannot distinguish or discriminate among different retailers.”

Zoning and development decisions are the bailiwick of the City Council in Denver. Hancock pushed his interference even further by having his aides poll the Council members and letting insiders know that he had obtained the necessary votes.

“Hancock really stepped on a lot of toes,” declared one insider. “Because of Hancock’s prostitution scandal, he doesn’t have the carte blanche that Hickenlooper had. The city council may be reasserting the power it had prior to Hickenlooper.” As a matter of practice council members respect the views of the council member whose district a project is located. The 9th and Colorado redevelopment is in the districts of both Councilwomen Susman and Robb. Moreover Susman is the President of the City Council. Some observers believe Hancock’s failure to get the Fuqua/Walmart project through shows he lacks the deft political touch of his predecessor.

(Please note that other than a few blogposts regarding the possibility for scandal for Hancock prior to his election, in the Village Voice-owned rag that makes most of its profits from MMJ and prostitution ads, no TV or newspaper even covered it.)

Nevertheless, neighborhood groups dogged every move Fuqua made. A mysterious new pro-Walmart neighborhood entity appeared from nowhere called “Neighbors For 9th.” The organization created a website devoid of a single individual’s name associated with the site or contact information. Neighbors For 9th also engaged in a pro-Walmart petition drive. However, a technically savvy member of Mayfair Neighbors, Inc. traced the website’s registration to “Cali Cook who works as an in-house web designer for David Cole and Associates…a lobbyist group hired to promote the Walmart development.”

And, this was the eye-opener -- it's always good to know which oligarchs back certain plays:

Others saw it as a defeat not only for Fuqua and Walmart, but also for Pat Hamill, the co-chair for the business conglomerate Colorado Concern.

“Mayor Hancock doesn’t dare blow his nose without Hamill’s and Colorado Concern’s permission,” stated another Valley resident. “Rest assured there are hidden footprints of Colorado Concern all over 9th and Colorado.”

One other issue that merits watching: Modifications to the Title VI to the Civil Rights Act, and how those affect public transportation policies, especially when it comes to the disproportionate location of light rail development to serve affluent neighborhoods....

Submitted by cg.eye on

.. when your link to the Pleasanton CA Patch -- the city housing Safeway's world headquarters -- is so inundated with anti-union sockpuppets that I can't tell whether Walmart's paying them to diss Safeway, or Safeway's paying them to cooperate with the industry-wide sentiment that unions should be driven into the sea, at Safeway's short-term expense?