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Don't everyone applaud at once

May 29, 2013

The high cost of low price will soon be in your backyard in Monroe.

Robert "Zippy" Zimmerman possibly the worst mayor in the history of Monroe who'll be remembered for killing local businesses & family wage jobs as well as creating a worse nightmare on Highway 2. Photo: Sky Valley Chronicle.

A Walmart hired "traffic expert," a guy named Mike Swenson of Transpo Group in Kirkland who was surprised to hear at city council meeting that trains run through Monroe at all hours and affect traffic flows. Duh. Sky Valley. Chronicle photo. CLICK

What fun it is to be a woman working at Walmart. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Local preacher & former Monroe councilman John Stima who salivated at the thought of the Walmart felons coming to town. He preached from his council seat about what HE thought America should be. Evidently in his America he likes corporate felons .

Puget Sound Sage research report on economic impact of Walmart opening stores in Puget Sound neighborhoods. CLICK TO OPEN
Chronicle News & Opinion

Editor's Note: As of 2/28/15 this article has been read over 21,700 times. Evidently people are interested in reading the back story about how Walmart ended up in Monroe; the story that every other newspaper and wire service in the state failed to report to its readers.

Evidently that story didn't fit with their corporate model of news or perhaps they were afraid Walmart wouldn't buy advertising from them.

Perhaps it was fear of simply offending one of the biggest, most powerful corporations in the world and that had them paralyzed with...well, fear. Whatever the reason, they failed to do their jobs in a very pathetic, open way.

Perhaps they should all fall on their cheaply made plastic-covered news ID cards and go out and get regular jobs so they can contribute something to humanity. Or maybe they should get jobs as Walmart greeters. Walmart's always hiring.

The Sky Valley Chronicle, we are proud to say (no matter what amount of advertising we may have kissed off) was the only newspaper or wire service in this state to report the true story of how the wishes of the people of Monroe were thrown under a bus by a lap-dog, weak, compliant, corporate-order-taking mayor and city council -- who also refused to do
their jobs.

The people of this community spent years and many hours putting together the building design guidelines for Kelsey Place specifically for that day in the future some huge, ugly, low-wage, big box "category killer" retailer decided to muscle its way in here, such a retailer would not be able to do it on the retailer's terms.

It is the story of how the Mayor and Monroe City Council threw the community under the "high price of low cost" bus for thirty pieces of silver.

This newspaper was and is the only place that readers could find another major, unvarnished and glaring fact about this Walmart story that no one else reported: there was never any spontaneous, grass roots support for a Walmart store in this town. None.

So where was the support for Walmart? Behind closed doors at city hall and possibly a few local Chamber of Commerce outfits. (You can always trust the local Chamber of Commerce to try and protect local businesses who've been here for years paying taxes, chamber dues and steadily building a business and careers).

That is Walmart's patented way for getting into a community without having to face communities first -- communities that may not want that kind of business in their towns and cities. And that is yet one more important thing no other newspaper reported.

Now...on with the show.

(MONROE, WA) -- This week comes the news that Walmart - the nation's biggest and most controversial low wage retailer - is an admitted felon, a common criminal that will pay $81 million in fines for a years long, willful and egregious pattern of illegal dumping of hazardous wastes.

Details on that story here

Welcome a great corporate citizen, won't you?

And soon this felon known for - besides criminal activity - bringing with it low wage jobs and killing higher wage jobs in communities along with long standing local businesses, will be moving into Monroe to build a monstrous superstore right off Highway 2 in the heart of the city.

Just last week the Washington State Court of Appeals ruled for the city of Monroe and against the Friends of North Kelsey (FONK) that had appealed an earlier decision that said the city of Monroe had acted legally in fully ignoring the wishes of the community and allowing Walmart to thumb its nose at every building guideline for the North Kelsey shopping district that community members had spent a long time formulating -- just in case Walmart decided it wanted to come to Monroe.

Yes this is the same famous store made more famous in the Robert Greenwald film “Walmart: The High Price Of Low Cost” (located HERE ) as a killer of Main Street small businesses.

Update & Editor's Note 6/11/13: The original version of this opinion piece made reference to a name, David Sabey in connection with a land sale (land at North Kelsey shopping center area in Monroe) having to do with the city of Monroe and ultimately Walmart's efforts to place a store on that land.

While the name David Sabey or alternately just Sabey has been used in this area for some two years by a number of residents and readers in connection with this ongoing story as a general reference point, sometimes to mean the Sabey Corporation or associates, subsidiaries, interests, assigns etc., or simply business assistance of a local nature to Walmart visa vi' Walmart's efforts to place a store in Monroe, the use of the stand alone name David Sabey or just Sabey in such an Op-Ed piece without explanation of the greater context is unclear in our opinion and thus may not be clearly understood by some readers, particularly those who have not been following the story for any length of time.

That was not our intent. Some readers may have taken the wrong impression that that use of the term was intended to convey the identity and actions of one individual or of even one business entity. It was not.

We also feel another area of the piece could have benefited from greater clarity therefore we are striking that portion of this piece as it relates to the proper name David Sabey or alternately just Sabey.

Our apologies for any confusion this may have caused and our thanks to a local reader for pointing out the clarity issue. End update and editor's note.


It may be worth noting at this point that SkyValleyChronicle.com was (oddly and curiously) the only newspaper in the Sky Valley or the region to report something that was painfully obvious in 2011 when local backlash to Zippy's plans for Walmart started to gather steam.

And that something was this: there was never any spontaneous, grass roots support - as in none, NADA - that was clamoring for Walmart to come into Monroe that paralleled the rise and activism of the grass roots group that quickly formed to oppose what Walmart was trying to do.

While that grassroots group, the Monroe Preservation Action Committee (MPAC) was organizing in a church basement and showing up in the streets demonstrating that citizens did not want the store, no other citizens showed up in those streets either as a counter demonstration to MPAC or in a show of force on their own, demanding a Walmart store open in the community. Did not happen.

Where was the support for Walmart? Behind closed doors with Mayor Zippy and the Monroe city council.

Walmart was eventually reduced - probably out of embarrassment - to sending out thousands of full color direct mail pieces that blanketed homes in the area asking residents to please show up at city council meetings and support the planned store.

The company even promised free T-Shirts for those who came out to express support. The company made good on its word.


Zimmerman's legacy will be that of a man who willfully contributed to the continuing decades-long decline of the fortunes of middle class families in America and possibly will be remembered as the moron who snarled traffic on Highway 2 through Monroe to a god-awful fever pitch by not having the common sense the lord gave a gnat to even ask Walmart to do a proper study of the traffic impacts on Highway 2 that a huge Wally World superstore just two blocks off the highway in this city would have.

Seriously, how stupid does one have to be not to demand a full-on, comprehensive traffic study with the traffic as bad as it already is on U.S. 2?

Were all these people on the Monroe city council brain dead from too much glue sniffing?

So welcome kids, not only to the high cost of low price and maybe the worst traffic you could ever imagine on Highway 2 through Monroe, but to the one town in Snohomish County where city leaders laugh and openly thumb their noses at the community and its wishes.

Your tax dollars at work.

The appeals court decision said FONK failed to show that the Zippy led city council made an error in approving the design plan for this 155,000-square-foot Walmart box that, if it follows the pattern of other Wally World stores across the country, won't add a dime to the city's retail trade.

Study after study finds that Walmart replaces (e.g. cannibalizes) the retail activity that is already going on in a community and most often does not add any new retail dollars. It does that by killing local businesses wherever it goes and higher wage jobs that go with those businesses.

Here's a hint. If you own any business in or near Monroe that sells anything that Walmart sells or might want to sell, find somebody to buy your place now and git while the gittin's good.

Because Walmart will likely take you, your business and your livelihood down hard.
UPDATE JUNE 2, 2013: Study on Walmart store openings in Puget Sound concludes each new store that opens results in net loss to community of millions of dollars.

A report released just a little over a year ago by Puget Sound Sage, a regional economic policy advocacy organization, concludes each new Walmart store opening in a Puget Sound neighborhood will result in a net loss of $13 million of net economic output and $14 million in lost wages over the 20 year life of the store.

The report, by economic impact expert Dr. Chris Fowler, is one of the first in the nation to use detailed economic analysis to determine the impact of a new Walmart ”neighborhood market.”

“We commissioned this report because we wanted to learn about the true economic impact a Walmart would have on a neighborhood when it moves in,” said David West, Executive Director of Puget Sound Sage. “What Dr. Fowler’s research shows is that a new Walmart, far from being a positive thing, is a net job killer and takes millions from the local community.”

West noted that, “Of particular interest is how this negative impact is so linked to the Walmart business model. A new “generic” grocery store does not equal economic harm, but a new Walmart does.”

Read the full report by clicking on the PDF file at upper right.


Within 24 to 36 months after Walmart opens you will likely not see in Monroe a number of businesses you see open now. And the smart money says one (and maybe two) of the three current food stores in Monroe - Fred Meyer, Safeway and Albertsons - will not survive.

In terms of wages in the community, a study by researchers at UC Berkeley's Labor Center has quantified, in peer reviewed scientific terms what happened to retail wages when Wal-Mart set up shop with stores across the country, drawing on 15 years of data on actual store openings.

The study found that Walmart drives down the wages of retail workers in urban areas, reducing their take-home pay by $4.7 BILLION dollars annually.

By the way, that same study shows in black and white just how wicked-cheap and rude Walmart is with its employees.

The study suggested it would cost the average shopper an extra $12.49 a year if Walmart paid its workers just $12 an hour (peanuts in an age where gas costs $4.00 a gallon) and passed most of the cost to consumers.

That works out to about...oh...a whopping $0.46 cents per trip to the store.

You can read the full study here

FONK can still appeal the decision to the State Supreme Court if it so desires. It could happen. But don't hold your breath.

The city and Walmart are both happy as Georgia pigs in warm mud over the appeals court decision.

City officials just can't wait to see the city's newest felon take up shop and start selling those communist Chinese made goods.

Diane Eliott, of Friends of North Kelsey issued a statement saying:
"We have done everything we could over the past two years to stand up for ourselves and our neighbors in Monroe who were overwhelmingly opposed to the Walmart development – a development that clearly runs counter to our collective vision for North Kelsey.

We are disappointed in the court’s decision, but even more disappointed in the Mayor and Monroe and Council members who ignored the will of the people.

This is a key election year Kurt Goering is the only remaining council member who actively supported bringing Walmart to Monroe. We need to make a clean sweep and tell Mr. Goering NO.

This is our opportunity to send a message that we need new leadership in Monroe. Leadership that will stand up for our community and our values.

The next step would be to file a motion for reconsideration. Our attorney is now reviewing the courts decision before advising us on this option. "

So if the traffic on Highway 2 through Monroe ends up being the worst nightmare you ever imagined, if getting home on a Friday night takes a half hour longer than it does now, if within a year or two you see 60 area businesses gone like the wind and a glut of office space no property owner can rent out, just remember you got what you paid for in Zippy and the gang.

But in the end, the Chronicle is just as much a capitalist as the felons over at Wally World and then some.

After they move in and set up shop, if they ever want to buy ads on the mighty Sky Valley Chronicle we're going to charge Walmart three times (hell, make it six times) as much as everyone else pays.

We feel it's the least we can do with a corporation that rakes in $36 million dollars every hour of every day and pays their "associates" enough money to eat from cans of dog food.

In a good week. If they're lucky.



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