Thursday, July 23, 2009

They're Mad and Not Going to Take it Anymore

Every Chicago resident living south of Madison Street should be in an uproar! Many of our neighborhoods are suffering in well documented food deserts and increasing violence, yet we are slamming our doors to the one food retailer who is ready, willing and able to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in our poorest neighborhoods without asking for any financial incentives?

My constituents want a Walmart in our community - they spoke loud and clear in the last Aldermanic election when the unions worked tirelessly and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to defeat me. Less than 14% of Chicagoans are members of organized labor -- why are we allowing a few to stall the quality of life and good health of so many Chicagoans? What a price so many will have to pay, for a long time.

If you are as mad as I am, call your Alderman and let him or her know that we're tired of others dictating what we can and can't have in our communities, and we're not going to take it anymore. We simply can no longer afford the cost.

~Chicago Alderman Howard Brookins, 21st ward, where a proposed Wal-Mart store would provide 400 new jobs.

MP: How many jobs and how many grocery stores are unions currently providing in the 21st ward? I think the answer would be "none" for both.

27 Comments:

At 7/24/2009 7:31 AM, Blogger OneCleverCookie said...

Why is it that the public just doesn't get that labor unions are government sponsored monopolies of labor. At least WalMart competes for business.
Personally, I'd rather have a root canal than to shop at WalMart, but at least once a week, I grace their doors out of necessity.

 
At 7/24/2009 11:03 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Apparently the Alderman is not quite as vocal against Wal-Mart's biggest critics--the small business owners near any proposed Wal-Mart. I wonder why that is? Does he have an ax to grind against unions because they did not support him in his last election but still want the votes of the small business owners?

I lose faith in articles written with such a hidden agenda in mind; especially from politicians. The Alderman is not representing his constituents—he is bashing unions. Credible writers do not try to pull the wool over the eyes of their readers. Don’t listen to a word this man has to say.

 
At 7/24/2009 12:20 PM, Blogger QT said...

"Don't listen to a word this man has to say"

The above is an example of a command sentence. Thank you for your interest but I believe we have the ability to choose our own reading material and assess content for bias.

Phrases like "hidden agenda" and "pulling the wool over the eyes of their readers" also trigger one's internal bias meter.

It is important for readers to learn to recognize populism and flawed logic. We often encounter populism of the cartoon variety which is easy to spot. It is far more difficult to recognize the subtler forms.

I can understand that this post may anger you. Anger, however, does little to improve the quality of the reasoning or the argument.

 
At 7/24/2009 12:53 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

QT,

There are a lot of biases here :) Oftentimes the more subtle biases are much more dangerous than the overt ones like mine. You can see where I am coming from--not so with the Alderman.

Politicians make their living pandering to the populace and depend on a lot of naïve people. I realize you can thrash out both arguments and see them for what they really are, but I'll stand with my earlier statement for a general reading audience. Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

 
At 7/24/2009 3:57 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

Isn't this more of a city/county planning issue than a labor issue though? If only 14% of Chicago is organized labor then why should the planners deny a walmart development? Usually it's just a matter of rezoning or getting a special use permit to build something like that. I don't see how labor could actually block a walmart from being built. It seems like we need more background to determine which parties are the real culprit.

 
At 7/24/2009 4:05 PM, Blogger QT said...

I also stand by my position.

Just about every source of information is biased even research studies where results are deliberately skewed. Unless you learn to question what you read, you can be very easily manipulated particularly in an age of mass communication.

It is also well to know what tune the devil is playing even if the music is not to your taste.

 
At 7/24/2009 5:11 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

For those who prefer logic over rhetoric:

Wal-Mart’s typical critics when proposing stores in new areas: small business owners/chambers of commerce, community/neighborhood groups, religious groups, environmental groups, and labor unions—not necessarily in that order.

The Alderman only mentions labor group opposition to Wal-Mart in his article.

Labor groups did not support the Alderman in his last election.

Therefore, this article is about the Alderman’s critics and not about Wal-Mart’s critics.

Wal-Mart is just a smoke screen for this politician.

 
At 7/24/2009 5:42 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Patrick,

That's the problem. You see the 14% labor figure that the Alderman stated and assume, without any proof, that the remaining 86% want a Wal-Mart.

It's is very difficult to get 50% of any group to agree on any thing. I do team training and know that from experience. The larger the groups are, the more difficult a majority consensus becomes. So, if half of the 86% non-union group does not want a Wal-Mart, that's 43%. Add that 43% to 7% of the labor group that does not want a Wal-Mart. Remember, all groups have trouble getting a majority, even labor unions. You now have 50% of the people who do not want a Wal-Mart.

Obviously, the issue is, or at least has the potential, to be much broader than the Alderman is stating. Nothing that is stated in the article by this author provides convincing evidence to a critical reader that this article is about labor unions’ opposition to Wal-Mart, or that unions alone could force the issue in that direction. What does that leave as the Alderman’s reason for the article? I have my opinion. What’s yours?

 
At 7/24/2009 7:27 PM, Blogger QT said...

Walt,

Funny, Mayor Daley seems to be saying the same thing...and Dennis Gannon, president of the Federation of Organized Labor is threatening to reintroduce big box minimum wage legislation.

Are you suggesting that Dennis and friends do not oppose Walmart? Where are your links to small business groups in Chicago opposing Walmart?

Saying it don't make it so.

7/24/2009 7:24 PM

 
At 7/24/2009 8:49 PM, Blogger randian said...

You now have 50% of the people who do not want a Wal-Mart.

So what? It's not their call. If they want the right to stop Wal-Mart from building a new store, why don't they buy the land with their own money? Obviously, they prefer to steal from the landowner instead.

 
At 7/25/2009 8:16 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

QT,

I am saying there are a multitude of reasons that Wal-Mart meets opposition beside labor unions. Many of the problems are their own fault: Yes, just like UAW/GM. In addition, the opposition is composed of some popular groups the Alderman does not want to piss off, so he hypocritically refrains from doing so.

Saying Wal-Marts’ problems are soley created from labor unions is like saying the Big 3’s problems are caused by the Japanese transplants. It ain't so.

Personally, I don't like Wal-mart bashing anymore than better than union or GM bashing. I think Wal-Mart does a lot of things really well and can provide a model for other businesses. The main point of my posts, though, is to point out the Alderman is trying to make unions look bad just because they did not support his election efforts.

Saying it is so does make it a possiblty it is so. Critical reading and analysis includes using likely assumptions using context.

Radian--neighbors have rights, too. Can I build a motorcycle race track next to your house?

 
At 7/25/2009 9:38 AM, Blogger randian said...

Randian--neighbors have rights, too. Can I build a motorcycle race track next to your house?

What does your strawman have to do with anything? The Wal-Mart in question is proposed to be built on land already zoned for industrial uses. So no, the neighbors should have no rights here.

 
At 7/25/2009 10:13 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Apparently, no building or site permits to build.

 
At 7/25/2009 11:38 AM, Blogger 1 said...

The Chicago socialist attitude is the source of their problems it seems...

Anyone suprised by the following?

City On Pace For $300M Deficit By End Of Year

Jul 10, 2009

Revenues fell $135 million below projections made last fall due to the recession, the city said.

Taxes, including sales, income and real estate taxes, have continued to decline.
...

skip)

"With 90 percent of our employees represented by unions, we hope to reach an agreement with our union partners soon to reduce personnel costs without layoffs and limiting the impact on city services," Saffold said....

 
At 7/25/2009 12:05 PM, Blogger randian said...

Apparently, no building or site permits to build.

That's because in Chicago, unlike most cities, you don't have the automatic right to build if the project matches the zoning. All building permits in Chicago are special permits, requiring the approval of both the area's alderman and a review board. It should not surprise you that this process is one of the most corrupt in the country.

 
At 7/25/2009 1:56 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Maybe the lack of a Mal-Mart in the 21st Ward is mainly an internal problem then? Most problems have more than one or two causes; however, few want to point the finger back in their own direction to solve problems.

It's a lot easier to find current villains such as Wal-mart, unions, transplant auto factories, or Islamic people to vent on. People need to see through the smoke screen whether it is voters or union members if they want to really solve problems. That takes real work and effort that few people want to expend.

 
At 7/25/2009 9:04 PM, Blogger QT said...

Walt,

I have called your hand and you are unable to produce a single piece of evidence to support the assertion that south side Chicago businesses are the main opposition to a Wallmart store as you claim.
What you have offered is words, words & more words. In argumentation, it is standard to substantiate a claim with evidence and standard to ask for such evidence.

I am open to accepting your claims but you have offered absolutely nothing credible.

"Nothing will come of nothing." King Lear, Shakespeare

Again, show me the beef!

 
At 7/26/2009 8:05 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

QT,

One of the first steps to analyzing an argument is understanding the main point. I never said Wal-Marts' MAIN opposition was small business owners. I said Wal-Mart has other opposition besides labor unions, which is not the same thing. In this particular case, obviously other aldermen would have to oppose the Wal-Mart or the Wal-Mart would be approved. Wal-Mart has historically shot themselves in the foot, too, but I think they are becoming a much better company nowadays. I don’t want to join the Wal-Mart bashers here. In fact, I think many of their processes should be copied.

In argumentation, common knowledge is acceptable without evidence. Assumptions such as this are allowed—unwarranted ones are not. We do not have to prove the sun rises in the East. If you want proof, Google “Wal-Mart” and “opposition.” You will probably get almost 5 million hits: I did. Read it yourself and get your own beef. You don’t get to see my beef today.

As I have stated many times before, my main point was not about Wal-Mart. It was the Alderman’s selective use of labor unions in his article to pander to the voters using a group that is currently vilified in the press. That’s way too easy.

Solving difficult problems takes a thorough examination of ALL of the factors. It’s hard work. Don’t let your leaders, elected or otherwise, take the easy shortcuts. I like to hold politicians accountable for WHAT they say and WHY they say it. You should do no less.

 
At 7/26/2009 11:18 AM, Blogger QT said...

Walt,

"I never said Wal-Marts' MAIN opposition was small business owners. I said Wal-Mart has other opposition besides labor unions"

No, I think you did.

"Apparently the Alderman is not quite as vocal against Wal-Mart's biggest critics--the small business owners near any proposed Wal-Mart. I wonder why that is? Does he have an ax to grind against unions because they did not support him in his last election but still want the votes of the small business owners?"

Anyone following the news from Chicago from 2004-2009 would be aware that the strongest opposition is not coming from the business community or the general public but from labour and civil rights activists including ACORN, the Chicago Alliance for Justice at Wallmart, United Food and Commerical Workers 881 (UFCW), the Center for Labor and Community Research (CLCR), Jobs with Justice (JWJ), Chicago Democratic Socialists, etc. Spot any business groups in there?

This has been a very ugly campaign at times. William Lucy, President of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists notes, "slaves technically had jobs too."

 
At 7/26/2009 11:59 AM, Blogger QT said...

Isn't it interesting that the Chicago Chamber of Commerce was lobbying aldermen in support of the Walmart store presenting a poll showing overwhelming support from residents? Wouldn't that be a group representing Walmart's theoretically "biggest critics"?

You impuned Brookins' motives and character evidence that labour opposition to a Walmart store in South Side Chicago is gallatic. opposition exists in Chicago. Politicians also make easy targets.

 
At 7/26/2009 12:01 PM, Blogger QT said...

Sentence got garbled in the last post:

You have impuned Brookins' motives and character despite ample evidence that labour opposition to a Walmart store in South Side Chicago is gallatic.

 
At 7/26/2009 1:32 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

OK, I'll grant labor unions have an influence in the Chicago Wal-Mart building. But the fact remains they don't get a vote on it, and labor usually has company at a Wal-Mart roasting.

Labor used to have a lot of clout, but they need a lot of help to get anything at all done now. QT, are you saying minus labor, Wal-Mart has no mentionable or influential enemies?

 
At 7/26/2009 10:44 PM, Blogger QT said...

No, Walt, I am looking specifically at opposition in south side Chicago rather than what opposition is "generally" or "typically" encountered by Walmart across the continental U.S. Chicago was the subject of the post.

There are businesses that object to Walmart stores particularly in small to mid-size communities. We are not however, talking about Portland, ME or Peoria, IL. The subject is Chicago and specifically whether your characterization of Alderman Brookins is justified.

You have suggested that other groups in Chicago object to Walmart. On that, we can agree.

There is a fracture within the black community on this issue. Many members of the black community like Alderman Brookins and many residents want the jobs and services that a Walmart would provide. Many black civil rights activists have come out swinging against the Walmart and have formed a strategic partnership with labour called The Chicago Alliance for Justice at Walmart.

Given the tensions within the black community, Alderman Brookins along with the mainstream media has avoided publicly criticizing members of the black community like Reverend Wright and Jesse Jackson. Hardly surprising given the explosive nature of race in Chicago and elsewhere in the U.S.

Your criticism claimed that Alderman Brookins was pandering to the business community not the black community in an effort to win votes.

Just one problem with this line of reasoning...

How does a politician win votes of small business owners who strongly oppose a Walmart store if he chooses to support the Walmart project?

 
At 7/27/2009 7:03 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

QT said: "Your criticism claimed that Alderman Brookins was pandering to the business community not the black community in an effort to win votes."

Maybe I misspoke somewhere or maybe you misunderstood my complaint. But my main complaint is that the Alderman only called out labor in his article, which was the group who opposed him in his election. Whether the opposition of other groups to the Wal-Mart was to a lesser or greater extent than labor was not my complaint. And Wal-Mart was not my complaint.

If five people are present and only one throws a rock and breaks a window, all should be held accountable (maybe not to the same extent). To single out one person and name him or her while ignoring the others is wrong. It's too convenient and politically correct to pick on just the one who is already disliked by many people anyway.

If the Alderman wants to get the approval of the Wal-Mart in the future, he needs to be proactive with all of the opposition and not hone his ax on labor who did not support him in the past. To do any less is self-serving and ignores the real problem. Personally, I think the people of Chicago should get a Wal-Mart if they want one.

 
At 7/27/2009 10:36 AM, Blogger QT said...

Walt,

Alderman Brookins has certainly not criticized members of the black community like Reverend Wright and out-of-towners like Jesse Jackson. I think we have to understand the dynamics at work here to understand why. Not even President Obama has the political courage to challenge members of the black community.

You reacted to this piece with anger and shot from the hip. It seemed apparent since you spoke on the basis of generalizations that you had not done your homework to try to understand the political dynamics of the situation nor the level of frustration that an elected official might have after 5 years of fighting for a Walmart.

Imagine representing an inner city community with high unemployment, crime, shuttered businesses, and few economic opportunities. A Walmart would bring desparately needed jobs, attract new businesses and provide lower prices for food, clothing and prescription drugs.

Can you understand Alderman Brookins' frustration and anger at organized groups of activists who stack committee meetings and pressure elected officials to block a project you feel is essential to your community? Can you understand the frustration when activists who don't live in South Side Chicago use pressure politics to try to get their way without any regard for the needs or even opinion of residents?

I am not asking you to agree with Alderman Brookins nor even to admit that you might have spoken in anger. Just trying to show you the other man's perspective may not be pandering, or dishonesty but genuine concern for his constituents and total frustration.

 
At 7/27/2009 11:05 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

QT,

Yes, I shot from the hip just like the Alderman did. He's gunning for unions and ignoring other opposing groups (besides blacks). I have no anger in me whatsoever.

If the people want a Wal-Mart, they should get one. If the Alderman wants a Wal-Mart he should do whatever it takes to get one recognizing that he may lose some votes in the next election. He might (or might not) lose the election by pushing for a Wal-Mart. Is he willing to do so?

I'm sorry about all the generalizations. I believe that too many leaders can't effectively lead because they are worrying about their next election.

 
At 7/27/2009 5:59 PM, Blogger QT said...

Your persistence in asserting as yet unimagined groups of opponents all without evidence brings back memories of the black knight?

 

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