It's easy to demonize WalMart during good economic times. Here's how WalMart opponent, city council woman Helen Schiller characterized her opposition in 2004.
We are dealing with a huge company with a long history of predatory practices," Alderman Helen Shiller argued during the meeting Wednesday, also accusing Wal-Mart of not providing its employees adequate health care.
"They count on the city to provide assistance to their workers," she said. "We are creating more loss than gains."
Such demonization, no matter how non sensical, is much easier during good economic times. No one notices the economic loss that a lack of a WalMart superstore brings when jobs are plentiful. In 2004, they were. Of course, it isn't, in my opinion, mere coincidence that supporters of proposed WalMarts are almost always the alderman that serve that particular neighborhood. For instance, in 2004, the most vocal supporter of the WalMart project was alder woman Emma Mitts. That WalMart, now a reality, was to be put up in her ward. It's almost always those that represent districts not directly affected by the WalMart that oppose it. That way they can get in bed with their union supporters without necessarily hurting their own constituents that much.
So, now we have the exact same scenario. Another WalMart is being proposed and it's being proposed in the area represented by alderman Howard Brookins of the 21st Ward. Brookins is the biggest supporter of the proposed WalMart. The proposed WalMart will be placed where there is currently an empty lot. It will employ 500 people, not to mention all those that will be needed just to build it. The city of Chicago's unemployment rate is north of 10% currently. So, unlike 2004, it's much more difficult a job creating project like building a WalMart.
So, what's a politician, tied to the unions, to do? They simply ignore the media entirely. Currently, the rules committee, chaired by powerful alderman Richard Mell (and father in law of disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich), has buried the proposal. The editorial board of the Chicago Tribune attempted to contact Mell to find out why it's still stuck in the committee. Mell ignored their attempted contacts.
That's not surprising. Chicago politics works like a giant boy's club. If you're in the club, you get preferential treatment. Nosey reporters are NOT part of the club. Instead, adoring reporters that look the other way are part of the club. That's why John Kass is so reviled by most of Chicago political class. The unions and Chicago's politicians have a very cozy relationship. Alderman Mell is really no longer answerable to the voters. That's because winning elections is no longer in doubt. What are the chances that a legitimate candidate would ever be able to orchestrate a campaign against such a powerful alderman? Instead, Mell is answerable to his allies, allies like the unions. Alderman Brookins, and his constituents, are simply not as powerful and as allied to Mell as the unions are. That's why WalMart's proposal continues to be buried.