Wednesday, July 11, 2007 | Red alert, red alert! Thanks to Donna Frye, Wal-Mart is going to inundate our city with their Supercenters! The “mom-and-Pop” neighborhood grocers and retailers will now vanish for good … not!

I think I can safely assume that, in her heart of hearts, Ms. Frye — who I actually like a lot, even though she and I are philosophically different — did not vote to uphold the mayor’s veto because of a love of Wal-Mart and the other “big boxes.” She and every other City Council member understand that they would lose badly in a public vote on whether government should limit the choice of consumers in a free market.

Yep, this is the Robert E. Lee who is running for city council in District 3 saying these things. But lest you start condemning me, please listen to my explanation. I do not have any especially strong feelings one way or the other about Wal-Mart in particular. Yes, I occasionally shop there. But I also patronize the small, neighborhood businesses. I live in Normal Heights just a block away from the Adams Avenue business district. I love the personal service, attention and the unique items and services that these little stores and restaurants provide. For me, it doesn’t have to be an either-or choice.

Finally, I would say that I agree with those who think that a Wal-Mart Supercenter just does not fit in what is District 3. But that’s what neighborhood organizing and activism is all about. That’s what the extremely detailed, onerous city planning-approval process is all about. If a Wal-Mart or any other “big box” doesn’t “fit” in a certain neighborhood or area of the city, it’s not going to happen, folks.

Oh, and by the way, since I know it will come up in your responses to this letter, I’m not antiunion, either. I grew up in a household with a father who was a Teamster for most of his working life. I remember him and his colleagues going out on strike a couple of times when I was growing up, trying to make a better living for our family.

In the meantime, though, let’s not stand in the way of consumer choice and the free market, huh?

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.