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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Target Related Items

I have about several separate things to write on Target today, so I'm combining somewhat different things into a single column.

Someone from the Don't Big-Box Davis passed along this little nugget of truth. I swear you can't make this stuff up. Target hired a sign waiver for election day on the corner of Covell and Pole Line. They paid that person $25 per hour. Talk about showing us where the priorities are. Obviously it was extremely important for them to win this election. And obviously much less important to pay their workers well as I don't think they even pay their managers $10 an hour. This is likely twice as much as they'll pay any employee at the new store. But to win the election, they'll pay whatever it takes. In this case, $25 per hour to a sign waiver and over $300,000 overall.

I'm operating under the assumption that Measure K will be approved once the final votes are counted. It is however, worth noting that Measure K was ahead by 1200 votes after the pre-election day absentees were counted and ended up ahead by around 600 votes overall, so on election day, the No on K side actually got very slightly more votes. I still expect Measure K to win after the last votes are counted, but it's worth noting anyway.

I have said this before and I'll say this again, I have nothing but the utmost respect for the No on K folks--they faced tremendously long odds on this one. I know polls in June showed that Target would pass easily--60-40 range. I never quite believe those kinds of polls, but I tend to think that's the case that Target was heavily favored in June. Most people in the end are not ideological about such things--especially the students who I am fairly certain pushed this over the top. I completely understand the reasoning of the students on this. The people I have a problem with are those who were swayed by the green Target campaign, that makes me sick. If you want a Target that's fine, but let's not pretend this is something other than a large corporation that practices exploitative policies on the environment and workers around the world. If you can live with that fine, but no amount of giving Target a green spin and a leed building is going to change what they are. I accept losing, I detest deception.

That leads me to my next point--the small businesses who are deadly opposed to Target and went public with that--I have tremendous respect for them. But my next question is to them--come next election are you going to continue (if you have in the past) to support Souza and Saylor for council or are you going to back the people who were on your side in this battle. Make no mistake here, part of what progressives wanted to preserve was the character of our city and the downtown is a huge part of that character. But if next election, those same small businesses are backing Souza and Saylor, then we'll be having this fight again in a few years. For so many reasons, we need change on the council, hopefully the businesses of downtown will join us to fight those who gave us Target and Covell Village.

Finally, I wish I had had time to put this on before the election, just too much going on in this town leading up to the election. But even more reason to oppose Target, they are not very compassionate toward the disabled community. The disabled community often gets overlooked in these battles. Fortunately they have fighters like our own Anne Evans to advocate on their behalf. Here's an article she wrote about how Target is being sued for not having accesible web site for the blind:

The National Federation for the Blind, an organization that represents blind people, is suing Target Corp., because Target’s Web site is inaccessible to blind Internet users. Target's argument is their Web site isn't subject to the Americans With Disabilities Act, a 1990 law that requires retailers and other public places to make accommodations for people with disabilities. Target argued that the law only covered physical spaces. Making information technologies available to persons with disabilities is not only a matter of human rights, it also makes good business sense. Take aim at practices and policies by the Target Corporation that discriminate! Boycott Target!
Evans brought this up with the Human Relations Commission a few years ago pointing out that the city's website was not blind accessible and the city at the insistance of the HRC made changes with their website to be accessible. This is a very telling thing, because, while Target is arguing that the law only covers physical spaces, it is not exactly difficult to make a website blind accessible. It is certainly not very costly and as they point out, it only makes good business sense to be able to reach a maximum amount of customers. So again very telling that Target would choose to fight this legally rather than make a change. To me that is inexcusable.

I will probably never shop at Target again, previously I might have gone to Target once or twice a year. I shop at Costco, good cheap prices, but they pay their employees extremely well and give them outstanding benefits. Wal Mart keeps their prices down by paying their employees very low and then browbeating their suppliers and threatening them to keep their supply end low. What Costco does is they sell one single national product per type. So the products have limited competition. So if you want to buy Ketchup, you can get one brand of Ketchup. And if you sell Ketchup to Costco, you know you'll get a huge share of the Ketchup market and that allows you to sell it for much less and still make a worthwhile profit--because basically you sell more of your products. Then Costco (again unlike Target or Wal Mart) turns around and gives their employees huge shares of the profit and have one of the most progressive health care policies in the country. I wouldn't want a Costco in Davis either, but it nice to have one in Vacaville that I go to a few times a year to stock up in bulk products.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting