This letter was submitted to the Nisqually Valley News for publication and is reprinted here with permission of the autho, unabridged in any way:
To the Editor:
When I got a new job early in 2006 and had to move away from my adopted hometown [Yelm], I kept up on the happenings in and around Yelm through friends, the Internet, and the Nisqually Valley News.
Moving to the land outside of Chicago, IL, I felt almost as if I had stepped from one frying pans fire into another. The rumors and history of cronyism and corruption around here are legendary.
But my faith in the system was unexpectedly restored.
Last Saturday, May 5, I picked up one of the local papers here, the Daily Herald. The headline: NOT WELCOME HERE over a picture of a woman holding a NO WAL-MART sign. Being in a hurry for other things that day, I only read the first few paragraphs of the story on page 1. Heres how it started:
It began with a certified letter.
The village of North Aurora wrote to tell Valerie Shoger the property next door to hers was being rezoned from agricultural to B-2 PUD.
She was curious and confused…
A few days later, a neighbor knocked on the door and showed Shoger a headline answering her question: Wal-Mart.
I read a few more paragraphs that day. When I finally got to the rest of the story on Wednesday (May 9), I discovered there was a vote by the village board scheduled for Monday, May 7.
With that date already passed, and expecting the worst from my experience in Yelm, I called Mrs. Shoger to offer my assistance in whatever way I could, to help keep Wal-Mart from moving in. After a couple of minutes of general discussion, learning that the certified letter had arrived this past March, and relating my Yelm experience, I volunteered to help.
Havent you read the papers? she asked.
No, just Saturdays, I replied.
After we finished talking, I picked up Wednesdays Kane County Chronicle. Still on the front page, Wal-Mart evaluates next move was the headline, with North Aurora trustees reject it after protests as the sub-head.
According to the story, Trustees voted, 5-1, against the proposed annexation and zoning for a 203,819-square-foot Supercenter on 28 acres…A full-service grocery store would have been part of the store.
Wow! Who would have thought? The people who were elected to represent the will of the people actually did just that!
Even though Wal-Mart had done its homework Mrs. Shoger said they wouldnt even do their final presentation (two hours worth that night) unless the board was ready to vote the Village trustees decided not to be swayed. They looked at the whole picture and saw better ways to use that land than for Wal-Mart.
My hat goes off to those trustees for their decision.
Would that the elected officials of Yelm had the courage to listen to their constituents and take a stand.
Perhaps this is also part of the difference between these two situations:
Yelm officials are the Councilmembers, whereas the North Aurora officials are Trustees. As such, they are entrusted by the community to act for their greater good. The Yelm Councilmembers act on behalf of the City, and it seems as though that may or may not include the people that live there.
I would ask the elected officials of my adopted hometown to keep the communitys trust by acting not just to increase the size of the coffers, but to use the funds that arrive there righteously.
The system can work. Its up to the people to be sure it does.
Mrs. Shoger has assured me that she will now be attending the Trustees meeting every Monday evening.
The people of Yelm, Rainier, Tenino, and Roy can do the same. Yelm, Rainier, and Tenino meet the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month; Roy meets the second and fourth Mondays.
If you dont like the way your elected officials are doing things, get yourself elected in their place. This year, Yelm has four council seats available, Rainier has three, Tenino has three plus Mayor, and Roy has three.
Filing week runs from June 4 through 8, though you can file by mail as early as May 18.
We have the greatest country with the best system available we just get to make it work right.
PO Box 252
St. Charles, Illinois
work: (630) 444-7619
home: (630) 377-1629
Yelm’s Wal-Mart is expected to open in July.
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Why don’t the Yelm mayor & city administrator, etc., have publicly posted email addresses? And how do you spell the C.A.’s name anyway? It seems to be different every time I look…
The City Council lists their email addresses.
I agree with you that avenues of email communication
with City Hall are difficult to locate on their site. I thought the very same thing you did about lack of email access last night as I wanted to write the Police Chief on another matter.
click on each Council member and you will then get their email address.
By deduction, I saw the first name, first initial of last name @ci.yelm.wa.us
will get anyone, as I got Chief Stancil that way.
The C. A.,
City Administrator is
I am excited about Wal-mart coming to Yelm. It is time that we are not taken advantage of with highly over priced items. I wonder why those that are apposed of Wal-mart think that the whole community thinks the same as they do. This is not so – there are many citizens in the community that are happy about this. I am happy with our councils decisions.
Now that Wal-Mart is opening its Superstore in this town, I guess it’s time to stop calling it a town and start calling it the city it officially is. Life in the city comes at a cost. And while this city is growing at an unprecedented rate, the runaway home construction is focused more on the northwest side, whereas the majority of stores – including Wal-Mart – are on the southeast end of town (oops! – the city).
It is a fact that Wal-Mart is opening in July. It is a fact that there is thriving business throughout Yelm now. It is a fact that Wal-Mart will bring low prices – at least for a while. How long will those low prices last? Probably as long as the other shops in town do. Wal-Mart has a history of low-balling prices until the “competition” is gone, then raising them way up.
Here’s an opportunity for everyone to learn – and perhaps even prove the “anti-Wal-Mart contingent” wrong. The experiment:
Drive from one end of Yelm to the other – preferably around 5:15pm on a weekday – and record all of the stores that are open for business. Estimate (or ask!) how many people work there and what kind of wages they’re paid. Time how long it takes you to make your end-to-end journey. Use video if you want, but record things in one form or another. Then do this every six months for the next three years. Write back at the end of your study and tell us all how it turned out…
I would venture to say that there will be significant change, and not necessarily for the better. Wal-Mart’s history is well-documented, and it’s not very pleasant. Higher-paying jobs disappear while minimum-wage jobs replace them. Benefits go with them. The money that is spent at local shops spreads around, whereas Wal-Mart money makes a beeline for Arkansas. History is what has happened, and while it does not guarantee the same actions in the future, it does provide a good indicator – unless something significant changes. We haven’t seen that with Wal-Mart.
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