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Sullivan's desperate move to block Walmart

Original post made on May 12, 2012

It seems self-interest and rhetoric have once again undone a potential positive advancement for the Pleasanton community and its residents. Matt Sullivan on Monday cited national reports of bribery charges against global retailer Walmart in Mexico and possibly other countries as an excuse to postpone the final vote on a proposed Walmart Neighborhood Market in Pleasanton. Sullivan asked his colleagues on the City Council to authorize spending time and money to have city staff conduct an investigation to see if the evil Walmart used financial backing through the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce political action committee to influence local elections as well.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 11, 2012, 12:00 AM

Comments (26)

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Posted by old joe
a resident of Downtown
on May 12, 2012 at 10:38 am

Sullivan is such an embarrasment to Pleasanton. He gets his jollies by wasting the time and money of others. Go away Mr. Sullivan.


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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Sounds like he may have raised valid points.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Parkside
on May 12, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Patriot, none of the obstruction Sullivan is engaging in is valid, based on local business ordinances. If speculation on stories about Mexican business practices impacts you, here in Pleasanton, then by all means obstruct away.
If, however, an unsubstantiated story about business in a 3rd world country means little to nothing to local residents, then stop with the questionable tactics straight out of the union play book.


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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2012 at 5:26 pm

The "unsubstantiated story" is only "unsubstantiated" until it is proven of dis-proven. Investigators believe there is enough cause to investigate.

"... means little to nothing to local residents"

Ethical business practices at a retailer are important to any consumer. If the a retailer is gaining unfair advantage over its competition illegally, then the consumer is harmed.

"...straight out of the union play book"

If Walmart violated US law, it was Walmart, and not the unions who are to blame.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Parkside
on May 12, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Patriot, in THIS country, the law is you are innocent until proven guilty. Obviously, you and your union buddies have already convicted Walmart management based on media reports, which are undoubtedly unbiased ( right....).
In any case, you and Sullivan know you are only delaying the inevitable. If you are thinking otherwise, you are only deluding yourself.


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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Steve,

It is the US government who is investigating Walmart. This is based on hearsay, or some kind of false bias.

" ...you are only delaying the inevitable."

Sounds like it is you and not I who have already made up his mind as to to the lawfulness of Walmart's activities. Isn't that what you are accusing me of?

As to the presumption of innocence, I am not presuming Walmart is guilty, and never have. I'm saying let's see what the investigation turns up. If they are found to have done nothing wrong, let's welcome their new store in to Pleasanton. Further, I'm not a lawyer, but I believe the presumption of innocence applies to "persons" accused of crimes.

Web Link

"...and your union buddies..."

Again, it is you who brought unions in to the discussion. For me the issue of ethical business practices is at stake, not union issues.


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Posted by Eleanor
a resident of Las Positas Garden Homes
on May 14, 2012 at 6:20 am

Tonight is the final vote!
Mr Sullivan is going to try to change the mind of the other council members to vote with him to deny Walmart.
To bad the audience can't vote to remove him!
He's a disgrace to this city. And this isn't the first incident to prove that.


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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2012 at 8:13 am

"This is based on hearsay, or some kind of false bias."

Oops. Should have said "This is not based on hearsay, or some kind of false bias."

Elanor, why do you think he is a "disgrace"? It seems that a lot of people on these forums just want to call people names and not say anything that really addresses the issues. Are you concerned about the allegations that Walmart broke US law, and perhaps knowingly rewarded executives for doing so? I was silent on the question of Walmart opening this grocery until these allegations were made public. It seems that there may be significant ethical problems here.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2012 at 10:03 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Patriot,

The allegations of bribery are outside of the scope of consideration for whether a business application conforms to the pre-approved land use conditions. If Pleasanton tried to deny the application using that reason under current law, we'd be laughed out of the courtroom. Moreover, Sullivan's suggestion that Pleasanton put a law on the books denying applications to any business that committed a crime or admits it committed a crime is quite possibly illegal.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2012 at 10:05 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Better suggestion: don't shop there.


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Posted by Eleanor
a resident of Las Positas Garden Homes
on May 14, 2012 at 10:39 am

Stacey expressed it perfectly!
One has nothing to do with the other.
We're talking about replacing a grocery store with a grocery store.
I'm sure you could find some illegal allegations against, say, Safeway, if you looked. And yet they had no opposition when building the new store.
Put any other name besides Walmart on this and it wouldn't be a problem.


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Posted by Cosmic-Charlie
a resident of Downtown
on May 14, 2012 at 10:46 am

Cosmic-Charlie is a registered user.

When this new store opens [and it will], I will check-it-out and make a determination as to whether it will become my 5th destination on my weekly shopping expedition, which currently includes the Pleasanton Safeway, Gene's Market, Smart and Final, and Sprouts in Dublin.

I might add, that my Safeway visit is for only one item when needed, as I prefer the small footprint stores [easier to get around].

Let the shopping begin!


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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm

"If Pleasanton tried to deny the application using that reason under current law, we'd be laughed out of the courtroom."

I'm no lawyer, but I wasn't aware that it would be illegal for the city of Pleasanton to block Walmart from opening a store here in a location zoned for a grocery. If you've got some information regarding the legality of doing this, please send a link. If it is illegal to block them, then certainly Sullivan shouldn't stop trying. Nevertheless, I don't see anything wrong with bringing attention to what Walmart is accused of.

"I'm sure you could find some illegal allegations against, say, Safeway"

The worse allegation I've heard against Safeway was the alleged shoplifting incident where they seemed to have overreacted. I haven't heard of charges against other grocers in Safeway that are as serious.


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Posted by Liz
a resident of Birdland
on May 14, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Is the union going to submit another letter to Matt so he can come up with another obstacle? Maybe this time the union can have some goons outside to intimidate some of the legal residents of Pleasanton. Of all the button wearers how many really live here and how many where bused in by the union so they can keep their union unemployment benefit?


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Posted by Rose
a resident of Danbury Park
on May 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm

I know an elderly lady from my church that lives in one of the townhouses across the street from the site. She doesn't drive, she walks with a cane,and has no close family. When she needs to go somewhere she has to rely on a friend or call a cab, or walk. She was telling me this morning how much she hoped a grocery store would open there. She said it would be such a blessing to her to be able to get herself to the grocery store and not have to rely on others or pay for a cab.
That is just one of MANY reasons I hope Walmart succeeds!


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Patriot wrote: "I wasn't aware that it would be illegal for the city of Pleasanton to block Walmart from opening a store here in a location zoned for a grocery"

The short answer is "it depends". In this case here, consider the following:

First, at this point in the process, there is little opportunity to be discretionary because the application conforms to the approved conditions that were attached to that property through a public process. Walmart could have submitted an application that didn't conform and then it would go through a public hearing to be approved or denied. But they didn't. That's how our process is written. Are allegations of bribery enough of a reason to break our own laws governing this process?

Second, to get to a public hearing it would need to be determined that the application does not really conform. That's what the appeal is about, yet no one has made that case thus far. With no such case, we can't even get to a public hearing over the merits and cons of the application, including alleged bribery. So, what do allegations of bribery have to do with determining whether the application conforms to approved conditions or not? Absolutely nothing.

Third, here's the link you asked for. Web Link Read the chapter on Zoning followed by the chapter on Managing the Risk of Land Use Litigation. It talks about requirements for constitutionality, fairness, predictability, consistency and objective (and relevant) criteria on land use issues. A law that discriminated based on allegations of bribery would very likely end up quickly in court as an equal protection issue.

Web Link may also be of interest to you.


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Posted by Got a 'talking points' mailer from the union
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm

The Union sent out another "talking points" mailer to the neighbors telling them what to say at the May 15 public hearing to stop Walmart.


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Posted by Mittens
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Ok, let me see if I understand patriots vilification of Walmart based on alleged indiscretions in a 3rd world country: They cannot conduct business locally, even though they fit the description of a permitted use of the target property, all because of some alleged business dealings in Mexico, known for its upstanding business practices?

Are your union foremen reputable citizens? Most union bosses are alleged to have ties with organized crime, so you should not defend union affiliated concerns based on this assertion, since many unionists associate with criminals.
See how this works......you can make a case for denying any business activity, based on innuendo, rumors and unfounded claims.


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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2012 at 10:18 pm

To "Mittens",

I have never been in a union and am not involved with unions in any way. Walmart is being investigated by the US government for violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The charges are serious. If anyone is "vilifying" Walmart, it is the US government. As I said before, I didn't have a problem with Walmart moving in to the vacant location, before I read that they were under investigation for this. Why not see what turns up? If Walmart hasn't done anything, let's welcome their new grocery to Pleasanton. If a delay can't be done legally, then it would be foolish to go ahead with a delay and invite expensive litigation.


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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2012 at 10:22 pm

What surprises me is to see people defending Walmart's behavior, assuming that the allegations are true. Some people seem to be saying that if Walmart achieved its successes by offering bribes that violated the FPCA, that is OK with them, even laudable.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Patriot,

Assuming that the allegations are true, then they should be punished for it to the fullest extent of the law. It's likely that some will no longer give them business, which is ok too. That's how a market works. If you recall, Walmart stock took a large hit over the allegations, as it should. And they're being sued by shareholder CalSTRS over it, as they should be.


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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2012 at 8:03 am

Stacey,

I'm glad we agree on this. However, I'm trying to give talk like "That's how a market works" a rest for a while, because of all that's happened with Wall Street. You see this kind of "market" rhetoric regarding regulation of large, too big to fail banks, insurance companies, and hedge funds. The financial industry is lobbying hard against any return to Gless-Steagall, re-instating the uptick rule, or requiring OTC derivatives to be traded on public exchanges. In the financial world, markets aren't working, and we need to return to the regulatory system that worked so well for 70 years. Markets need reasonable regulations and laws or they don't work.


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Posted by Mr. Mittens
a resident of another community
on May 15, 2012 at 8:54 am

Heavens sakes alive! I think all of you are right. If Walmart bribes officials with $80 million in Mexico, that's Mexico's problem. If the bribery practices were covered up in Little Rock Arkansas Walmart corporate office, then that's Little Rock's problem. Union leaders associate with mob bosses. It may or may not be illegal for Pleasanton to stop Walmart from setting up another grocery store. The free market works. Walmart is routinely sued for millions of dollars, and frequently loses the suits because of illegal labor practices. Yet Walmart is great! It's only a grocery store. I think we need strong leadership from someone with a business background on this matter.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 15, 2012 at 9:16 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Patriot,

I don't disagree with you on Glass-Steagall and perhaps it's a topic for a different thread. There's an ideological divide that only considers the quantity of regulation when the discussion really needs to be about quality of regulation.


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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2012 at 11:29 am

I agree. Getting a little side tracked here, but this editorial deals well with the quality vs. quantity of regulation.

Web Link


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Posted by Mr. Mittens
a resident of another community
on May 15, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I guarantee that the last thing you'll find in my administration is politicians who vote their conscience. That strikes me as Stalinesque. Let the banks go under; and let them perform their underhanded and nefarious practices. If people don't like them, they'll take their money elsewhere. As Stacey says, we need to let the free market flourish. Same with Walmart. They may have to fork over hundreds of millions each year for unfair labor practices, but if over the long run it saves them money to do this, then they should be congratulated. Who cares about forced child labor practices when there's a profit to be made. That's my motto.


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