Walmart corporation may be taking the exhortation of Arvada mayor Walmarc Willams to 'change or die' to heart. As we have said here before, a Walmart Supercenter in the Arvada Plaza is an out-dated idea -- the future is in e-commerce and small businesses not solely reliant upon brick-and-mortar structures.
The "We Won't Shop Arvada Walmart" movement is growing and more and more Arvadans are realizing that Ralston Road is simply not adequate for the traffic a Superstore would need to generate to stay open.
With the soil contamination issue, the lack of compatiblity with the surrounding neighborhoods and the anger over Arvada Urban Renewal's $5.8 million in corporate welfare to the developer (IRG), one would not be surprised if the Walmart corporation finally decided that Arvada truly isn't a good fit for the low-wage, discount retailer.
The Arvada Urban Renewal Authority with the backing of the Arvada city council has been irresponsible and incompetent for years and years in its approach to revitalizing the Arvada Triange area. Purposeful neglect, indifference to neighborhood concerns, government manipulation of the market place, reliance on corporate socialism, the AURA/council "we always know what is best for you" attitude, antagonism towards existing businesses -- all these traits have been why it took a $5.8 million taxpayer giveaway to even get Walmart interested in the Arvada Plaza property.
Now, Walmart itself may be coming around to the realization that Superstores are going to be dinosaurs as the 21st century progresses.
Abandoning the unwanted Arvada Plaza Supercenter would be a good place for Walmart to start changing direction.
Wal-Mart said Wednesday that it will slow down on adding supercenter stores next year as the retail giant focuses its investments on its in e-commerce business and its small-format Neighborhood Market stores.
Wal-Mart also slashed its sales guidance for the year amid what it called “a tough sales environment” in which low-income consumers have been stubbornly cautious with their discretionary spending. While the company’s previous forecast was for 3 to 5 percent growth, the company said it now expects 2 to 3 percent growth. ...
Low wage jobs with no or few benefits do not increase the standard of living in Arvada. A predatory retailer like Walmart has already driven independent, Arvada-based small businesses out of our town; more small businesses will surely leave or close if the Arvada Plaza Walmart ever opens; and a $5.8 million taxpayer subsidy -- corporate welfare -- does not encourage or promote the free market.
The cronyism and elitism of the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority and the Arvada City Council have betrayed what is best for our small businesses, our neighborhoods and our special community.
These are not even American values. They certainly aren't Arvada values.
For being instrumental in bringing this kind of low-wage, predatory business into Arvada, Denver resident, Maureen Phair, director of the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority gets a $5000 raise just this year for a total of $130,000, plus benefits, plus a $6000 annual 'car allowance'. How big was your raise, average Arvadan? Who is paying for the car you drive to work?
Maybe we all just need the right kind of government job, uh?
Profiting off its new uniform policy. Faking a state sales tax. Abusing animals to promote soda. These are just some of the ways the world’s largest private employer has stooped to new lows this month. Here are five developments that expose the extent of Walmart’s greed.
1. Walmart set to profit off workers from its newly imposed dress code.
2. Walmart fires workers who exposed the company selling expired food.
3. Walmart lies about a state “sugar-tax” to explain prices to customers.
UPDATE! The $5000 annual raise for Ms. Phair was approved unanimously by the Arvada city council -- without discussion -- at its meeting of Monday, September 15, 2014.
UPDATE! We are now in possession of all three employment documents for Ms. Phair. A correction has turned up in the Third Amendment: the retroactive date is to July 2014 ... not 2012. This kind of incompetent error is what happens when a document is not presented to the public at the time it is approved by the AURA Board of Commissioners. (This 'mistake' is also revealing in light of Phair's other official job title as 'Secretary' ... perhaps some remedial office skill classes are in order, that the taxpayer's would have to pay for, of course.)
Still, we see that Phair has gone from a salary of $110,000 in 2011 to expecting $130,000 now.
Wow! $20,000 in raises in just three years. I wonder how many other city employees are so well considered? How about the average Arvada taxpayer?
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Without comment or explanation, the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (AURA) Board of Commissioners passed a third amendment to the employment contract of executive director, Maureen Phair, at their regular meeting of Tuesday, September 2, 2014.
On Friday, September 5, I asked for and received a copy of this amendment -- it increases Ms. Phair's annual salary to $130,000 retroactive to July 2012!
Just last summer, Phair's salary was set at $125,000, a $500 a month car allowance, plus other benefits. If the city council approves this generous pay raise, Phair will get a nice fat check for at least $10,000 right off the bat.
Life sure is hard for some top government bureaucrats, uh?
Considering that a great deal of Phair's job is to arrange give-aways of tax dollars to development companies and retail corporations ($5.8 million for Walmart), well, your average Arvadan might be forgiven if they just don't quite comprehend the necessity of this kind of personal government largesse.
Hey, when was the last time you got a retroactive pay raise? A pay raise?
But it does seem that government-types do tend to take care of their own if they are at high enough levels (after all, it's not their money and they always know what is best for you).
Just as troubling as the lavishness of the pay hike is the secretive nature of this proceeding -- no public discussion or explanation before the vote by the AURA board for this contract amendment. [See AURA meeting citizen notes.] If a copy of the document hadn't been specifically asked for, we still wouldn't know what this all about. We are led to conclude, therefore, that in previous secret meetings (also called 'executive sessions'), the AURA board and the executive director 'negotiated' this 'personnel matter'.
Sometimes, as this episode so far demonstrates, public cynicism and distrust of government bureaucrats and politicans is certainly well deserved.
Of course, I still wonder why there isn't a sunset provision for the executive director's car allowance, after all, after the Gold Line is up and running, Denver resident Phair will be able to take the train to work, right?
In Arvada, $5.8 million will go to a Walmart that doesn't fit the local neighborhood, the broader community or the traffic system. 'Corporate socialism' maybe a value of the city council and the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority ... but it isn't a value of most of the city's residents.
Troubling news for Walmart ... 'same-store sales' continue to decline.
The article link and chart posted below demonstrate yet again why a Walmart Supercenter is not a good fit for Arvada.
Since not many local residents will shop Arvada Walmart, that means 'same-store sales' will be very low or nonexistent for a store on Ralston Road. A bad deal for Walmart, uh?
The Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (AURA), the City Council and developer IRG may have been desperate to find a tenet for the Arvada Plaza site, but Walmart has turned out to be a 'pig-in-a-poke' for them. Arvadans don't want a Walmart in the Plaza and the dirty site means bad publicity ... subsequent lingering doubt about environmental safety in the area will only make future redevelopment more problematic.
(Pursuing Walmart also shows just how chronically stuck in the last century is the Arvada governing class: Walmart is a fading retailer; beltways are now considered retrograde; believing no one cares about residential development next to a nuclear site is backward; futuristic urban transportation is going to be automated and personal -- not anchored on 19th century technology; forcing high density housing is right out of Charles Dickens; centralized government planning is a proven failure; etc.)
Furthermore, as the financial and market problems for Walmart grow, as indicated in the report linked to here, the $5.8 million government giveaway to Walmart/IRG from the Arvada taxpayer is going to be just a drop in the bucket for what they really need. In other words, the government pay-off to Walmart/IRG isn't going to be enough and Arvada taxpayers are starting to get fed-up with AURA and City Council corporate welfare.
If instead of cronyism we had genuinely bold, creative and honest leadership in Arvada, we would see a preemptive termination of the Walmart 'deal' and a truly citizen-initiated plan for the Arvada Plaza formulated.
Forward looking leadership would get ahead of the curve and make the decisions now for the moment when Walmart finally decides that this planned store is going to be a bust for them and they move-on.
After revolutionizing and then dominating retail for over five decades, Wal-Mart may finally be succumbing to the same fate as former retailing legends such as Woolworth's and Montgomery Ward.
While it's too early to make a definitive prediction, there's nevertheless one indisputable reason to believe that Wal-Mart's best days are behind it: Same-store sales at the retail giant have dropped in 14 out of the last 21 quarters. ...
... arguably the first time in the last few decades, Wal-Mart is facing legitimate (some might even say "superior") competition from the likes of Amazon.com and Costco.
And along these lines, it's also worth noting that Wal-Mart hasn't done itself any favors. Over the past few years, it's continued to foster a reputation for exploiting workers, gotten bogged down in a bribery scandal in Mexico, and has even struggled to keep its shelves stocked with merchandise.
Whether these struggles are enough to tip the inevitable scales of progress and innovation against it remains to be seen. But things certainly don't look good.