Some say that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I believe that the dollar is mightier than either.
There has been a lot of debate recently over the 50,000 square foot size limit for buildings in the county. At the county commissioners' meeting on Monday night a vote was scheduled for the "emergency ordinance" which, for a period of 61 days, would have the county follow the city's lead in proscribing any new buildings over 50,000 square feet. At the end of the allotted time, and after much public input, there would be a decision by the county commission on whether or not to make that size limit permanent.
Unfortunately Wal-Mart decided not to risk unfavorable public debate and the possibility of a size limit by applying for a building permit before the meeting Monday. In effect, Wal-Mart denied citizens of Hood River the opportunity to plan our county's growth and removed the opportunity of those still uncertain how they felt about the issue to come to a decision. Instead of waiting to hear what Hood River would like to see in the county's future, the giant corporation, which claims to only operate in towns where it is wanted, used the planning office's rules and the commissioners' inertia to force the big box decision down Hood River's throat.
What can we do about this "done deal"? There are several options still open to those who believe that a giant, big box corporation would not be suitable here. The most powerful avenue is through the pocketbook. This is probably the busiest season of the year for stores like Wal-Mart as people rush out to buy last minute gifts for the holidays. Therefore, let us have a boycott of Wal-Mart. Don't shop there for anything! If you absolutely cannot find what you need in Hood River, shop online or in The Dalles. Some have argued that at least the local Wal-Mart employs residents while Fred Meyer or Bi-Mart are in another county. This is true. However, Wal-Mart obviously needs to be sent a strong message and decreased sales would be one way to send it. Along with not shopping at Wal-Mart, everyone should send a letter to the Wal-Mart corporate head office stating why they have stopped patronizing the store. The corporate office address is:
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Attn: Customer Service, 702 S.W. 8th Street, Bentonville, AR 72716
This is not anti-Wal-Mart. Many people in Hood River shop there and are happy to have the present store in town. It is great that they have employed local people who seem to be happy with their jobs. It is simply telling the executives at Wal-Mart that we like to make our own decisions about our town without being railroaded into accepting any decision they make. It is also requesting that they be happy with their current share of the pie and not demand it all.