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Residents wont provide Walmart with welcome mat

When people hear about Walmart trying to muscle into the neighborhood, some say it would be good to get any business into the vacant building where G.I. Joe's used to be. But that would only be trading one vacant building for a lot more vacant buildings down the road.

Safeway, almost across the street from there, is already on the ropes, and the smart money is saying it wouldn't last more than a few months if Walmart opened up. There is rumor that they've already decided to throw in the towel and leave now rather than take a beating. Safeway is the anchor store in that shopping center, so if Safeway goes down, the whole center goes down with it. Look at the empty storefronts where Kienows used to be!

With Safeway driven under, there would only be Walmart and Fred Meyer. But we see that this neighborhood cannot fully support even two supermarkets, or else Safeway would be thriving now. So either Walmart or Freddy's would go under within a year or two. Any bets on which one?

Then where would we be? The old G.I. Joe's would be occupied, but another whole shopping center would be boarded up, and an entire complex would be empty where Fred Meyers is today.

Maybe we're creative enough to try something different this time and stop playing musical ruins.

See other reasons not to welcome Walmart at nogwal.org.

Mark A. Miller

Milwaukie

What's in a name?

Over this past year, I have heard many people in our area believe the North Clackamas County Chamber of Commerce is a part of the county, a county department. Is that because county is in our name? Could it be as a result of decades of promoting the greater community, business and tourism destinations which the public assumes is funded through public dollars? I don't quite know.

Whatever the reason, it is important for the community to know that we are a private, nonprofit business organization. Our mission is to advocate and serve business so it can grow and succeed in the North Clackamas region. Business succeeds when there is livability for families, thus our support for schools and promotion of recreational opportunities in the area. Families have a strong foundation when there are good jobs and a stable economic base close to home, thus our efforts for the betterment of regulations, taxes, and leaders that listen to understand the needs of business to thrive.

The Chamber of Commerce is the organizer of people and businesses where they can meet, greet and help each other find local products and vendors, solutions for their challenges, and information resources. Member businesses benefit from not only the programs and services that convene but more subtly and perhaps more importantly, contributing to the joined efforts of hundreds of businesses who recognize together, our voice is stronger than standing alone on an issue that supports business. This is done with private member investments.

Unlike a chamber of commerce that serves a single city, the North Clackamas County Chamber of Commerce serves four cities and a very large unincorporated area in this county. It is very important for us to work with our elected officials and public partners to achieve what is best for our community.

So perhaps having 'county' in our name helps to reflect our regional diversity as well as the diversity of partners we engage in the business conversations. Nevertheless, Your Chamber is a private organization working on business members behalf for a strong local community and economy. Who do you know you can tell? Who do you know that should belong to this important voice for business?

We'd like to introduce ourselves. We are Your Chamber - a private business organization.

Susan Lehr

Chamber of Commerce executive director

Store would bring more blight

Walmart is worse for the local economy than an empty building!

There are many good reasons not to shop at Walmart. You may be concerned about maintaining workers' rights, protecting environmental quality, preserving American jobs, supporting local business, or limiting the need for government funded social services. But if you care about none of these individually, there is still good reason to stay out of Walmart and oppose a Walmart opening in your neighborhood:

Every new Walmart shrinks the local economy. A Walmart hurts the economy more than an empty building!

That may seem illogical. We usually think that more business means more economy - but study after study has demonstrated that with Walmart, it just doesn't work that way. The opening of a Walmart on the West Side of Chicago in 2006 led to the closure of about one-quarter of the businesses within a four-mile radius, according to a study by researchers at Loyola University. Supermarkets are the most adversely affected, with sales declines of from 10 to 40 percent. One study showed supermarkets within one mile of a new Walmart have a 25 percent chance of closing in the first year, and 40 percent chance in two.

The economic decline can be huge. A study of the grocery industry in southern California found that Walmart cost the economy there $2.8 billion dollars per year.

How can this be? How can a business lead to less business? It is the sum total of many Walmart practices, common corporate practices taken to the extreme:

• Paying low wages and benefits.

• Limiting hours to prevent earning of full-time benefits.

• Ruthlessly fighting worker organization.

• Squeezing suppliers for ever lower costs, leading to poor quality products and off-shoring of jobs.

• Providing almost all services in-house, meaning little opportunity for local business.

• Replacing businesses that provide better jobs for local workers.

• Encouraging employees to seek government services to make ends meet.

Taxpayers make up for low wages and benefits - Walmart costs U.S. taxpayers an estimated $1 billion per year subsidizing low wages and benefits:

• Health care - Walmart health plans have high deductibles and high premiums. Hundreds of thousands of their employees can't afford their insurance and rely on taxpayer-supported assistance programs. In 21 of 23 states that disclose information, Walmart has the largest number of employees on the public rolls of any employer.

• Welfare subsidies - Walmart encourages employees to supplement their low income by taking advantage of public assistance programs such as food stamps, housing subsidies and other welfare programs.

• Finding tax loopholes - Walmart deducts rent payments made to itself (through a real estate trust). Cost to taxpayers: $300 million per year. They aggressively challenge tax assessments on property they own. Loss to taxpayers: millions in legal fees and millions in lost tax revenue.

All this adds up to more money being removed from our local economy, so less remains in the hands of workers and local businesses that would spend more in our own area. It adds up to our own little economic recession on top of already difficult economic conditions.

Walmart intends to open 17 new stores in the Portland metropolitan area, one of them at the former G.I. Joe's site in Oak Grove. The Oak Grove Community Council has twice voted to oppose Walmart's plans for our neighborhood, plans that would violate the public's desire expressed in the three year process that created the McLoughlin Area Plan. MAP has been accepted by the county board of commissioners, but not yet implemented. We should make it clear that we do not welcome the violation of our community will nor the inevitable shrinkage of our economy that Walmart would bring.

Go to NOGWal.org to learn more and make the 'no to Walmart' pledge.

Tom Civiletti

Oak Grove

Something doesn't add up

Math is stressed too much, and everyone loses.

'What math are you in?' Kids in high schools all around the country inquire this of their peers. This question seems simple enough, but it reveals a dangerous pre-occupation with mathematics at the expense of other subjects.

Many public schools have no foreign-language requirement, do not require four years of social studies or of science. Not that they require four years of math either, but my point is this: Unless you are going into a math-heavy field, you should not have to take much math.

I propose children should study through the first semester of Algebra II, minus all the unnecessary material. Unnecessary meaning not practical. Practicality is not something I normally value in education, but it's certainly useful for cutting down the math department.

In fact, mathematics can be more integrated into all other subjects in interesting ways. This way, high schoolers can learn enough math without other subjects feeling the fire they do now.

Sure, higher math will still be an elective, but the subjects will be more balanced. It's a win-win situation, ensuring a better education for all.

Austin Howard

Happy Valley

Appalled by funding decisions

After reading in this week's Clackamas Review that Milwaukie and Clackamas County are on the 'search for light-rail bucks' (June 6), I honestly did not know whether to laugh or cry.

Can it really be that county commissioners and City Council are so irresponsible as to enter into a multimillion dollar contract for light rail without a plan or at least a clue as to how to pay the contracted portion?

I am appalled by the fiscal irresponsibility of our elected officials and further appalled that, in these difficult times, a bond measure would even be considered an option. As evidenced by the letter from the Clackamas County sheriff, we are already seeing the fallout from the rampant lack of fiscal planning here in Clackamas County.

Looks like the next planned 'boondoggle' is a baseball stadium in Milwaukie so get ready taxpayers, because it's a sure bet that you won't get to vote on this project either.

Connie Held

Oak Grove

Debbie Higbee is not forgotten

May 28, 2012, came and went fairly unnoticed by most. For the Gladstone community and the Gladstone Police Department, this date represented the one-year anniversary of Debbie Higbee's tragic death in our city.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to continue to work cooperatively with Clackamas County's Major Crimes Team, who continues the investigation. We will not rest until those responsible for Debbie's death are brought to justice.

James A. Pryde

Gladstone chief of police

Stadium: Latest underhanded scheme

Once again, city of Milwaukie officials show themselves to be incompetent in their decision making with a light-rail plan not at all thought through.

Now they have signed on to what they are saying is a legally binding agreement with no predetermined way to pay for the project. One can only assume that their eventual method of payment for light rail will be to charge more for various 'services,' or even divert increased costs from the Water Bureau like the city of Portland has in the past.

They have already come up with an excuse to charge more for water and stormwater charges. So it will be simple for them to keep using that excuse to keep up-ing the rates there. Of course, the water and stormwater charges were previously mismanaged for the past up to 30 years, at least 10 that can be easily pointed to, and now they have lost well more than $1 million dollars in that department by improper billing practices just in the last 10 years.

The next under-the-table scheme of the city of Milwaukie is the ridiculous notion that a baseball stadium is somehow a financially feasible and logistically sensible concept. My first reaction is: 'Now who is personnally going to get a profit in the city of Milwaukie from this stupid idea !'

Someone in the Milwaukie government has to be getting some form of direct or indirect profit from creating a traffic snarling, financially risky project like this one. Otherwise why would such an idiotic plan ever be considered?

This would be a traffic nightmare. McLoughlin is already a mess in that area at the north end of Milwaukie. Milwaukie Avenue and Tacoma Street are just as crowded. The new bridge across the Sellwood Bridge site would change things, possibly. But it may not be for the better.

Every time some new bridge or traffic corridor is widened and 'improved' then the traffic only follows with more than the original plan can handle. At least they should wait for some years after the new bridge is built over the Sellwood spot and see what develops for the traffic patterns.

And no, even if light rail comes into Milwaukie, that won't bring the people to the stadium either. Not very many people now go to the games by light rail in the Portland area, whether it is the Rose Garden or Jeld-Wen Field. Who wants to spend hours going to and coming from a sporting event? Most people want to just drive there in their own car, get there, watch it, and then get home.

So I don't trust the 'thinking' on the stadium idea either.

Stephen W. Page, D.M.D.

Milwaukie