Thursday, May 10, 2012

PAC For Hayward Chamber Takes Aim At Council Candidate That Stopped Walmart

May 10, 2012 | Hayward voters were hit last week with two high profile mailers slamming city council candidate Al Mendall and his decision last month as planning commissioner to block Walmart from opening shop in the city.

One full-page, glossy mailer blared in all caps, “Al Mendall didn’t listen to Hayward’s seniors and mobile home residents.” Amid photo copies of letters from Hayward residents supporting the proposed Walmart Market & Pharmacy on Whipple Road, the mailer asserts Mendall voted against, “lower prices for food, prescriptions, pet food and household products.” It also contends his vote stifled “new jobs in Hayward.” Last part gives a clue to the makers of the political messages.

The mailers were paid for by a political action committee calling themselves, “Good Government Now!” The group is also known as the Hayward Chamber of Commerce. Over the past two years, the PAC has received fundraising from Felson Enterprises, ($5,000); Balch Enterprises, ($2,500); Martin Land Co., ($1,500) and former Alameda County sheriff Charlie Plummer, ($1,600). Earlier this year, Plummer unsuccessfully lobbied the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to approve a permit for a gun and ammo shop on Lewelling Boulevard in nearby San Lorenzo.

Good Government Now! also received $1,500 from Calpine, the corporation constructing the controversial natural gas-fired power plant on the Hayward Shoreline near Chabot College.

A second more sedate piece from the same group advocates for four city council candidates, Mendall is not one of them, and urges for passage of Measure G, the school district’s parcel tax.

Mendall and three other commissioners voted down the proposal in April to replace the vacant Circuit City builing on Whipple with a smaller scale Walmart, which would only cater to grocery shoppers. A larger Walmart rests only a mile away in Union City.

Three incumbents and six challengers are vying for four at-large seats on the City Council this June 5. Mendall was seen as a front runner to snag the last remaining non-incumbent seat left open by Councilman Bill Quirk’s run for the assembly. However, despite the backing of the entire current council, the late candidacy of former Hayward city manager Greg Jones, may make it difficult for Mendall to sneak into the top four.


90% of Chamber of Commerce members are small businesses that cant compete with Wal-mart. When Wal-mart comes into a community, small businesses close and jobs are lost. The Chamber should be advocating for the majority of their members, not big bucks. I say replace the Chamber Board and the CEO!

It was partly at the request of the Hayward chamber's smaller members that it took a position in favor of the Walmart grocery store. They are desperate for an anchor tenant at that location, which has been vacant for more than three years. And don't forget that the homeowners' associations in the area also wanted Walmart Grocery. At a time when the city is looking to cut $14 million from its budget, why are we turning away sales tax dollars and 100 jobs? What the article does not say is that four planning commissioners
rejected the ruling of the city's own staff in this matter, and rejected the project because they said putting a Walmart in a big-box at a freeway off-ramp did not consitute a "regional" use.
Kim Huggett
Hayward Chamber of Commerce

Kim, your Chamber is misguided on this issue. First, the City staff was off on its reasoning for this zoning request, and the Commissioners made the right decision. Witness your Chamber's own hit piece on Mendell which references a wish for a grocery store by some of "Hayward's" residents. By your own campaign's admission, this is a grocery store meant to serve City residents, not regional residents who are already served by a Wal-Mart one mile away, as well as numerous grocery stores in their neighborhoods.

Your smaller members who want an anchor at the Whipple site do not understand the nature of the Wal-Mart business model. This avaricious corporation wants to take business away from almost all of your smaller members. Wal-Mart's model is to destroy the entrepreneurs' independent businesses in Hayward and other cities, with the goal of eventually turning a very small percentage of your small business owners into vendors to Wal-Mart desperately trying to make a few pennies per product item. Almost all will fail to make a go of even this shriveled version of their dreams due to Wal-Mart's ability to make Hayward vendors face a race-to-the-bottom group of international competitors.

Perhaps, if allowed to take this site, Wal-Mart would allow a few independent business owners at the Whipple site to take tiny scraps of business from markets which Wal-Mart doesn't wish to take. These independent owners certainly will be insecure, as the dominant anchor store could decide to push competetive products onto Wal-Mart shelves at any time. Everyone else will be out in the cold.

Among the people left out in the cold will be Hayward workers, who are also known as YOUR CUSTOMERS. Kim, I'm sure there are many misguided people in the Chamber who are pleased by the idea that Wal-Mart will drive down wages and benefits in Hayward; these members of yours believe it will help them keep their own labor costs low.

It must be pointed out what a miserable failure this capitalist model has been, and how resistant those members of yours are to the facts. We are decades into an American economy which has reduced the buying power of workers in lower- and middle-class jobs. The ever-growing divide between rich and poor is a deadly divide for your local Chamber members.

With an increasing number of Hayward jobholders having little to no disposable income, and your Chamber quite likely working in support of the State and National CoC's desire to actually take away income from the disabled, unemployed, elderly, and those injured at the workplace, why would you be surprised when people stop spending money at your members' businesses? That, and the 2008 financial crash which was caused by deregulations of businesses which were pushed for by the national Chamber, is why your members on Whipple and elsewhere in Hayward are struggling.

Al Mendall's decisive vote on the Whipple application kept with his duty to make correct interpretations of zoning regulations. Given that he could expect Wal-Mart to carpet-bomb his active City Council cmpaign with despicable lies in numerous campaign mailers, it was a courageous vote as well. That your Chamber is stabbing Mendall in the gut with the same knife Wal-Mart is going to use to stab your members in the heart next year makes many of us furious, and causes us despair.

Wal-Mart does not want your members to succeed. Hell, they want to tear down the social compact of the mid-20th Century which was crucial in making the United States the greatest nation in the world. Why don't you see these things?

Mendall is too wimpy for a city council position.

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