Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 5, 2006 / 9 Sivan, 5766

Get smiley face

By Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | There are two ugly guys in the fight between the City of Hercules, Calif., and Wal-Mart. It's a classic tale of Big Government versus Big Box, and both sides are prepared to use big guns.

In the last round, the City Council voted unanimously to use the awesome power of eminent domain to seize 17 acres owned by Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart vowed to use its awesome resources to fight back. As Hercules sees it, Wal-Mart is the rude guest that won't leave. Attorney Gale Connor, who represents the city, noted that Wal-Mart bought the property in 2004, despite considerable opposition to the retail giant's proposal. "Why did they go ahead and purchase the property to begin with?"

This is a hot story, Connor understands, because of the "confluence of two very controversial subjects." The Bay Area has its share of Wal-Mart haters who see the chain as pure evil.

I see using the power of eminent domain for private development as evil. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that municipal governments have the right to use eminent domain to seize property for "public use" — even if that "public use" entails the government taking land from homeowners to give to a private developer. It was downright un-American for the Big Bench to determine that the city of New London, Conn., could evict homeowner Susette Kelo and her neighbors to make way for a tony private waterfront development.

Wal-Mart is no Susette Kelo. Be it noted that Hercules is not evicting a homeowner or small business — it is seizing an empty lot. In essence, the city is using eminent domain as a proxy for strict zoning rules.

The big irony is, as Connor noted, "part of the reason eminent domain has such a bad name" is that "historically" big retailers — including Wal-Mart — have used it to take other people's land. Last month, the Orlando Sentinel reported, Wal-Mart threatened homeowners that if they didn't sell to the retail giant, it would ask local authorities to take the land by eminent domain.

Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley acknowledged as much. "There's no question," he said on the phone Wednesday. "We've benefited from some degree from eminent domain decisions." Simley contends the difference is that Wal-Mart was able to use eminent domain to counter blight. Of course, blight is in the eye of the beholder. Citing blight, cities have used eminent domain to seize the homes of blue-collar owners to make way for upscale housing.

Donate to JWR

Many Northern Californians consider a brand-spanking new Wal-Mart to be blight.

Still, Hercules residents should ask themselves if it is worth the money it will take to fight this case. The legal bills could be huge. As Connor noted, "Wal-Mart is entitled to just compensation for their property," and if the chain doesn't think the city is offering enough, it is "entitled constitutionally" to seek a jury trial for more money.

Should taxpayers foot the bill for a fantasy? Many residents in the East Bay conclave long to be too tony for Wal-Mart. Hello. The site of the battle is near I-80 and surrounded by an industrial park. The only nearby homes — separated from the lot by a creek — are new and quaint, if crowded, with porches in front, garages in back and small parks in lieu of yards. Planners envision an old-fashioned village with small shops by the bay.

But a city can't just pass a law and turn itself — with homes there selling at a median price of $475,000, according to the Economic Development Alliance for Business — into Sausalito.

"Hercules is a high-income enclave in a larger lower-income trade area that is currently underserved by retail activity," says an economic review of Wal-Mart's proposal that was written for the city and plays to the pretensions. The report shows that other Wal-Marts in the East Bay attracted fast-food restaurants, in one case a check-cashing outlet and in another a "a low-end coffee shop." Oooh. Not Starbucks.

But if the area is as high-end as planners say, Wal-Mart should attract better companion outlets.

Vocal Wal-Mart foes believe they have a right to decide who sets up shop in their town, and the right to keep out shops that might attract lower-income shoppers. This is just class warfare. While Wal-Mart haters are free to not shop at Wal-Mart, they want to wield the club of government so that others don't shop at Wal-Mart.

Bert Gall of the Institute of Justice, which opposes using eminent domain for private development, warned, "If something like this can happen to Wal-Mart, it really can happen to anyone." And, "It just illustrates that what the Supreme Court unleashed in Kelo was the ability of government to play favorites."

Hercules could end up with no retailer interested in the site. "The market already demonstrated that there wasn't much interest in what the city had in its general plan there," said Benjamin Powell of the Independent Institute. If Wal-Mart wants in, and Retailers for the Rich aren't banging down the door, that should tell Hercules residents something.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.

Debra J. Saunders Archives

© 2006, Creators Syndicate

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles