Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why I disagreed with Jesse Stay, yet agreed with him (another "Walmart in Ontario" post)

Jesse Stay is a fairly well-known figure in the (admittedly small) tech/social media community. And he uses his last name as a branding tool - when he's not working, he takes "staycations" even if he leaves home. And his blog is called Stay N' Alive.

Recently he wrote the post Want to Give me a Christmas Present? Please Like This. It turns out that "this" is not a Facebook page (even though Stay co-wrote the book on Facebook), but another page:

If you give me anything this Christmas season, will you please just click like on this page, supporting Salt Lake City’s food bank? If we can get enough people to like it Salt Lake City’s food bank earns $1 million to distribute to the needy. This year is of particular need for the Utah Food bank. In a down economy, they are seeing increasing need for help, with a shortage in what they are able to provide. They claim this year to have a 30 percent increase in the number of families coming for food.

Well, Stay's post inspired me, but not exactly in the way he wanted. You see, I ended up finding another page - the page for Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California, and liked that page. If you're an Inland Empire resident who is reading this post (this is, after all, the Empoprise-IE Inland Empire blog), I encourage you to like it also.

As you have figured out, this is a competition between various metropolitan areas to get funding from a donor.

The donor? Walmart. If you go to the parent page,, you can find out what is going on:

Help fight hunger in your community

We're putting $1.5 million in your hands. You decide where it goes.

Select a community on the map. "Like" it to show your support. We'll donate $1 million to the community with the most support, and $100,000 each to the next five communities.

So now people in Salt Lake City, people in our area, and people in other areas throughout the country are working to get support before the contest ends up Friday, December 31.

Now I'm not blind as to WHY Walmart is doing this, or why Walmart has pledged $2 billion by 2015 to fighting hunger. Or why competitor Target has held similar contests to direct charitable giving.

Frankly, the big box companies want to obtain community support, and this is just a salvo in their battle against union supporters who want to keep big box stores out of every city (see my December 6 post).

Which is why my Facebook "like" of the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario page included the following message:

Sorry, Jesse Stay, but I needed to send a message to Cory Briggs.

Perhaps Briggs will ensure that Albertsons or the UFCW donates a few billion dollars of their own, and then we can call it even.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The tedium of City Council meetings

We often pay so much attention to our national government and our state government that we forget that many decisions are made at the local level, often at city council meetings.

David Allen mans the Pomona City Council beat, and provided an extended report on the first meeting of the new City Council.

Favorite line:

The swearing-in took place during a special 5 p.m. session. Council members then went into closed session, while I went into the Pomona Eagles Lodge for its $1 taco night. I probably made out better.

But governmental meeting tedium is not restricted to city councils. When I attended Reed College, the student government held regular meetings and issued minutes after those meetings. Now you'd think that Reed's reputation as a communist/atheist/free love place would offer at least a somewhat whimsical set of minutes, but no such luck. The minutes were published in the school newspaper (the Reed College Quest<) on a regular basis, until someone on the Quest rebelled and, instead of printing minutes, chose to post "seconds" - extremely brief observations that were more enlightening.

Allen could conceivably do the same, but when a columnist writes one-sentence columns, his or her job security would be endangered.

And Allen's accounts are much more entertaining than the official city council minutes - which I was unable to locate for Pomona. (When I viewed the website, the city council pictures hadn't been updated to take the new election into account.)

Ontario's City Council minutes are here, by the way.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ontario, we have to get on the ball - goga's recruiting

While the Empoprise-IE blog is targeted to all of the Inland Empire, I naturally have a preference for stories that relate to my hometown of Ontario. Despite this, I don't really keep up with other bloggers in the city (other than Matt Munson).

At the same time, there is a thriving community of bloggers in Pomona.

And the Goddess of Garey Avenue wants to see that community expand:

I am writing this article purely to encourage others to join the Pomona blogosphere, or to help encourage the blogfaded. Also, given that us Pomona bloggers are going to have a blogger’s float in the Pomona Christmans Parade this year, I thought an article to help even more Pomonians to join us would be a timely adventure.

The Goddess explains exactly what a blog is, provides some examples of local blogs, lists three services that allow you to blog for free (one of her listed services,, is used for this very blog), describes some alternative ways to host your blog, and provides the names of some people who can assist new bloggers.

All in all, an excellent post that will help Pomona bloggers get started.

But if you promise not to tell goga, can I let you in on a secret? The same tips that can help Pomona residents launch a Pomona blog can be used to help Ontario residents launch an Ontario blog.

And we have an airport...well, actually Los Angeles has our airport, but we have an airport located here, I guess.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ontario consumers continue to suffer in Cory Briggs' union war

Yes, the Ontario WalMart project is delayed yet again.

City officials may be forced to scrap their three-year-old approval of a Walmart Supercenter and review the project again.

If the tentative opinion by the state 4th District Court of Appeal in Riverside holds, city officials will have to set aside approval of the superstore and study the possibility of urban decay due to business competition.

Possibility of what?

"We won on key issues: urban decay and losing the grocery store. Both are big issues," said Cory Briggs, an attorney for the group of homeowners opposed to the project at Fifth Street and Mountain Avenue.

"This proves what we've said all along. Walmart doesn't create new jobs and does more to displace employers."

Here's what is alleged:

The analysis conducted by the city found that no significant urban decay would occur as a result of the project.

The city's report also found that if a grocery store were to shut down as a result of the Walmart project, other uses could fill the vacancy. An Albertsons market lies three blocks to the south.

But the court doesn't agree.

The report, the opinion states, "does not look at the actual demand for vacant food store space, and therefore did not adequately assess the likelihood of urban decay resulting from the project."

Urban decay, as the opinion described, can be attributed to increased competition and the economy. Both could lead businesses to close and, over time, the buildings to deteriorate.

The evaluation of that possibility, Briggs said, will paint a clearer picture of the project's economic impacts for the council and other city officials.

Any economists or politicians, Briggs said, will argue that small businesses are the backbone of the economy.

"Walmarts are small-business killers," he said.

Now bear in mind that the so-called "small business" that worries Briggs so much happens to be an Albertsons grocery store. Albertsons is part of SuperValu, Inc., traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the "SVU" ticker. As of Friday, SuperValu had a market capitalization of US$1.79 billion and revenue of US$38.62 billion.

And while Briggs speaks of urban blight, he completely ignores the urban blight that I have to face every day - namely, an abandoned grocery store AND and abandoned Target AND an abandoned Toys R Us. If you want to see urban blight, go to the corner of Mountain and 5th. Cory Briggs has preserved that urban blight for several years running.

Matt Munson still seems to think that this can be settled:

Here is my suggestion so we can get the project settled once and for all.

Listen to the residents, figure out what accommodations which could be made so we can get the project built. Having a pure super center like Chino is out of the question and having the project terminated is also out of consideration as well.

Um, Matt, it's not. Briggs and his friends would love to see the Walmart project completely terminated. Even if the store were only open five minutes a day and if you had to use mass transit to get there, Briggs and his friends still wouldn't want the Walmart in Ontario.

To realize why, you have to look at Cory Briggs' previous activity.

You see, Briggs hasn't only opposed the Walmart in Ontario. At around the same time that the Ontario Mountain Village Association started its battle, there was a battle that was being waged in another city. I've talked about this before (also here, but perhaps it's worthwhile to recap.

On January 2, Cory Briggs of Upland registered an organization called the "Murrietans for Smart Growth." (He also registered an organization called "Blythe Citizens for Smart Growth" on the same day.) One day later, the Murrietans for Smart Growth filed a suit to block a SuperTarget in Murrieta.

Now the city of Murrieta hadn't run into a lot of Murrietans who were demanding smart growth, and people began to wonder if the only one demanding this was non-Murrietan Cory Briggs. North County Times picked up the story:

Earlier this summer, after Regency's attorney suggested Briggs was the only member of the group, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Cunnison ordered Briggs to produce an actual member of the organization before allowing the lawsuit to proceed.

The first "Murrietan" to step forward was Richard Lawrence - who lives in San Diego and has no business affiliation to Murrieta, let alone Riverside County, according to court documents. In a deposition, Lawrence said he was the group's president.

Hubbard, however, continued to press Briggs to bring forward an actual Murrieta resident, according to court documents. And a few weeks later, on Sept. 4, Briggs produced a woman named Felicia Munoz-Graham, who lives on the city's west side and works at the Ralphs supermarket on Washington Avenue.

According to her deposition, Munoz-Graham was one of the founders of the group - but she said she had never heard of Lawrence.

The lack of familiarity between the two members further clouded the group's legitimacy in the eyes of Murrieta leaders.

So Matt Munson, I'm sorry, but you can't expect someone who will invent a group to reasonably negotiate - especially when you consider one other parallel between the Murrietans for Smart Growth and the Ontario Mountain Village Association.

Felicia Munoz-Graham works at a Ralphs in Murrieta.

Cory Briggs is, as previously noted, really really concerned about the Albertsons in northwest Ontario.

Why is Briggs worried about the Kroger unit (Ralphs) and the SuperValu unit (Albertsons), but not about WalMart or Target?

Well, I won't say the name of the organization that links the two grocery stores, but its initials are UFCW.

You probably already know how UFCW feels about WalMart. Here's how they feel about Target:

Of more than 1,400 Target stores employing more than 300,000 people nationwide, not one has a union. Employees at various stores say an anti-union message and video is part of the new-employee orientation. At stores in the Twin Cities, where Target is headquartered, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union Local 789 has been trying for several years to help Target employees organize, with little luck.

"People ask what the difference between Wal-Mart and Target is," said UFCW organizer Bernie Hesse. "Nothing, except that Wal-Mart is six times bigger."

So, in response to Matt Munson's question regarding "what accommodations...could be made" to get the WalMart in Ontario approved, it's really very simple - unionize the entire WalMart workforce, and Briggs will cease his opposition to the project.

Sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Macaroni Kid on My Delight

If you follow My Delight Cupcakery on Facebook, then you already know that they were featured in a post in Macaroni Kid. The post describes how My Delight started, and provides other details.

But Cynthia W. is a good blogger and knows that bloggers need to provide disclaimers. Here's the one that she provided at the end of her article:

Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation or free "treats" for this feature -- I just tried their cupcakes and wanted to pass this info onto MacKid readers. Enjoy!