FROM OUR CITY GOVERNMENT,
WE DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY, TRANSPARENCY, AND AN
OPEN DISCUSSION ABOUT ISSUES THAT AFFECT OUR COMMUNITY.
And so it begins...
The horrifying realization that we were right all along.
We went into Tigard's most-popular grocery store yesterday, WinCo.
In all our years shopping at WinCo stores, we have never seen one that deserted.
When we first learned a Walmart superstore was planned in the Tigard Triangle, and another 8 miles away in Sherwood, our first concern was regarding the existing business community here.
We were already aware of the “Walmart Effect” - the resulting degradation of a community when Walmart has set-up one of their monopolies. Overall wages go down, independent/small businesses close, our shopping choices become more & more limited – and let's not forget the burden on our tax system.
We were accused of being people who, “just hate Walmarts”.
So how DOES this affect the city, overall?
Well, on the one hand, you have WinCo's employee-owners making top-of-the-industry wages, plus an incredible health care, benefits & profit-sharing plan.
These are people who are able to buy houses, spend their money at local businesses, send their kids to college, etc.
There are WinCo employees who have retired with over a million dollars put away, “...more than 400 nonexecutive workers (cashiers, produce clerks and such) currently have pensions worth over $1 million apiece.” (http://business.time.com/2013/08/07/meet-the-low-key-low-cost-grocery-chain-being-called-wal-marts-worst-nightmare/
Because of WinCo's unique business-model, they can do all-that and still have the lowest prices.
On the other hand, there's the Walmart workers.
You can view the statistics on this page & thousands of others. They usually start at minimum wage, working part-time hours. They have a hard-time ever getting a fixed schedule, so they are unable to get a 2nd job or attend school. They end-up having to rely on public assistance for housing, food, health care, child care.
And how much is someone in that predicament paying-into the tax system, as opposed to a WinCo worker earning middle-class level wages?
What is happening in the Triangle right now affects us all.
If WinCo has to cut even one worker's hours, that IS the “Walmart Effect” in-action.
So, is it true that we “just hate Walmart”-?
That is a silly, simplistic accusation made by people who dislike our active, vocal opposition to this drain on our economy & community.
We invite you to ask yourselves what our detractors' true motivation is, when calling us ridiculous names, and accusing us of “just hating Walmarts”.
In reality - we just prefer to shop where the workers are happy and paid a fair wage for a hard day's work.
We prefer to support a Northwest business that sources it's products locally, whenever possible.
And we like that, because of WinCo's unique business-model, we also pay the lowest prices around.
WinCo has been a huge boon for the city & state, contributing to the tax-base, providing wages that enable their workers' middle-class incomes to flow through our local economy, and enabling these workers to provide educations & opportunities for their families.
The City leadership should have acted to ensure the best interests of the city as a whole.
Instead they have constantly defended Walmart's “right” to open a store wherever they want to, disregarded the concerns of residents & businesses, and created an on-going traffic-mess that will continue to impact many other Tigard businesses.
The City, with the Tigard Chamber's gleeful-backing, has brought the Walmart Effect to Tigard.
We hope you will contact your City leadership, about this or any issue affecting the city - http://www.tigard-or.gov/city_hall/city_council/meet_council.asp
On August 12th, we addressed the Tigard City Council:
"This week is a turning point for Tigard. There'll be a Ribbon cutting, talk of new jobs and the inevitable announcement of a donation to a few worthy causes. All part of an orchestrated marketing campaign that tells us to 'Save Money, Live Better'
Well, in my eyes, 'Living Better' doesn't mean being stuck in traffic in my own city, just to go to the grocery store or run errands. 7000 more cars are coming to Tigard, every day, because of one business.
One business caused medians to be installed on Highway 99W.
One business caused the freeway offramps to be lengthened and for new traffic lights to be installed.
One business completely altered the Tigard Triangle and the possibilities for it's future.
The city helped this one business, by diverting gas tax money away from the city's neighborhoods and using it to construct another stop light on 72nd Ave, and to have it ready by opening day.
With the additional impact to traffic, This one business has already made Tigard less liveable.
This was predictable - we proposed to you some common sense regulations and ordnances to help make sure that Walmart is a good neighbor. We asked you to consider the impact on our small businesses and the surrounding neighborhoods. Our City Attorney said you had the authority to pass these regulations.
But you failed to act on even one of them.
And so here we are, 7000 more cars on our roads, a store open for business 20 hours a day. No restrictions of any kind.
I ask that all of us, as we sit in bumper to bumper traffic on weekends, think about the choices that have been made, who really made them, and whether they are truly for the benefit of this city's residents.
In this issue, We should have had strong leadership and responsible leaders. We had neither. We deserve better.
On May 13th, we addressed the Tigard City Council:
Mayor Cook, members of the Council,
Tonight, on behalf of the citizens of Tigard, our group, Tigard First! Is making a formal complaint to you, our elected representatives, regarding the street widening project at 72nd and Dartmouth, which you will be considering in this meeting.
By allocating City Gas Tax funds for this project, you are in violation of the Tigard Municipal Code, which states that Gas Tax money will be spent according to a priority list determined by the Tigard Transportation Advisory Committee. This project was not on the list for this fiscal year, and by going ahead with the project, you are depriving the city's neighborhoods of needed improvements which we have been patiently waiting for you to address.
This project is simply another cave-in to Walmart, helping to insure that the 7000 additional cars, which will visit the store every single day, will find their way into the parking lot with a minimum of inconvenience. Meanwhile, the people of the city continue to have to walk in ditches, or the roads for lack of sidewalks. We deserve better.
Mr Ramis, we are asking you to investigate our allegations, and take corrective action to bring the city's actions into compliance with the city code. We are also asking for an audit of how city gas tax funds have been used since the tax was implemented. We are asking you to do your jobs and act in the best interests of the taxpayers of this city.
SEE MORE DETAILS ON OUR GAS TAX PAGE.
We are very proud to have hosted the exclusive Tigard showing of the movie "Inequality for All"
People traveled from as far away as Hillsboro to join us in viewing this important film.
[Learn some stunning facts about America's growing inequality here.]
A lot of things aren't working very well in our community and in our society.
These videos communicate ideas for fixing some of the problems we face.
Have a solution to a problem in our community? We'd like to hear from you! Then, let's work together to turn it into action!
A recent Citizen comment:
"Where is the $ going to put sidewalks in where children are dumped off of school bus's everyday. For years now I have watched children leave a bus and walk in the street or a ditch on 121st, a very busy street, after school. I keep hearing something is in place to put a side walk in...yet the budget keeps going elsewhere to things like Walmart, street fairs that are lame ???? Are we so busy worrying about bringing in business that important simple things like sidewalks are being ignored????" - a Tigard resident
Questions for Every Tigard Resident:
- Are you concerned that traffic in the City will continue to get worse?
- Have you been wondering why the City doesn't have any money to fix the street nearby, yet there's always money to improve roads near big developments like Walmart?
- Have you wondered why the City's Library must be closed on Thursdays, and has to operate under reduced hours?
- Have you wondered why the Police Department hasn't added any officers for years, even though the city is growing?
- Have you wondered why the City keeps trying to 'revitalize' downtown, but nothing really changes?
We've been asking these questions too.