The Green Party of the District of Columbia and the D.C. Statehood
Party have taken steps this year to merge into a single party, to
be called the "D.C. Statehood Green Party." At a district-wide convention
on June 12, which was open to all registered members, the D.C. Statehood
Party voted unanimously in favor of merger. The D.C. Greens decided
overwhelmingly in favor of merger on Sept. 2, at a meeting in which
all registrants were likewise invited to vote.
The parties also voted to accept the new name and, if the D.C.
Board of Elections and Ethics refuses to recognize the merger and
transfer the two parties' respective ballot statuses to the merged
party, to dissolve their respective parties. If necessary, members
of the D.C. Statehood Green Party will in 2000 start from scratch
and collect the thousands of signatures required to put candidates
on the ballot and win back official ballot status in the 2000 election.
But members of the two parties are optimistic that the Board of
Elections and Ethics will accept their internal decisions, and are
ready to apply legal pressure with the argument that a political
party has the right to decide its own destiny.
Party activists realized that the platforms and missions of Green
and Statehood overlap 99 percent, and had already established a
strong alliance. Both participated in the D.C. Independent Progressive
Coalition in 1997, which also included the local Umoja Party, the
Labor Party, and, briefly, the Reform Party. The Coalition ceased
to exist in early 1998, but it laid the groundwork for cross endorsements
between Green and Statehood in the 1998 elections. D.C. Greens worked
especially hard in the campaign of Statehood Chair John Gloster
for mayor. (Democrat Anthony Williams won.)
Original Green Party
The D.C. Statehood Party had already made a connection with the
Green movement. Statehood Party veteran and journalist Sam Smith
(publisher of The Progressive Review and Sam Smith's Great American
Political Repair Manual, a book that belongs on every third party
advocate's shelf) notes that Statehood's platform was green years
before the Green Party was first founded in Germany, and asserts
"The D.C. Statehood Party was the original Green Party."
Greens who ran for office before 1996--when the D.C. Greens, led
by Jenefer Ellingston and Angela Flynn declared themselves a distinct
party with the Ralph Nader presidential campaign-- did so on the
Statehood ticket. Former Statehood Party Chair Sam Jordan attended
an international Green conference in Vienna in 1995, and won an
endorsement of statehood for America's capital.
Several members of Green and Statehood, including Smith, have regularly
shown up at both parties' meetings. This practice culminated with
the resignation of Kevin McCarron, a former member of the D.C. Green's
steering Committee, from the Greens to become the new chair of the
Statehood Party this year.
Founded in the 1970s by Julius Hobson, the Statehood Party ran
candidates with strong progressive platforms that have always been
for full statehood for the District of Columbia. D.C. has no voting
representation in Congress. Congressional subcommittees oversee
all legislation--sometimes wielding the veto or imposing unwanted
policies, a source of even greater frustration since conservative
Republicans took over Congress in 1994.
Residents compare D.C.'s status to that of a colony or a plantation,
with white overseers in Congress ruling the majority black population.
The District's financial insolvency in the early and mid '90s had
as much to do with restrictions--such as the inability to tax commuters
(a right enjoyed by every other city and state in the U.S.) who
live in Maryland and Virginia and work in D.C.-- as with the mismanagement
and cronyism of Mayors Marion Barry and Sharon Pratt Kelly.
In the summer of 1997, Congress and President Clinton authorized
a takeover of nearly all government agencies under the D.C. Revitalization
Act and placed the D.C. government under the power of a "Control
Board," that, completely unaccountable to residents, answers only
to congressional Republicans. D.C.'s Democratic, Green, Umoja, and
Statehood Parties protested. But the third parties offered a broader
and more accurate critique of the crisis than the Democrats, and
identified two assaults on D.C. democracy.
The first assault is sanctioned by the U.S. Constitution. It places
D.C. under rule of Congress (and, since limited home rule was allowed
in 1973, under Congress' supervision). We recognize the second assault
in the power of corporations, especially in the local Board of Trade,
the Chamber of Commerce, and the Federal City Council--many from
outside the District--to determine local policy, through their hold
on the mainstream of the Democratic Party.
Members of the Green and Statehood Parties have thus led the battle
to block (unsuccessfully) construction of a massive, wasteful, and
environmentally hazardous convention center which will displace
an historic African American neighborhood, and (successfully, for
now) imposition of a private prison, under a contract with the notorious,
corrupt and inept Corrections Corporation of America, in a poor
Southeast neighborhood. Democrats championed both projects.
Green and Statehood are now involved in the campaign for guaranteed
health coverage for all D.C. residents in a plan that leaves out
profit-hungry HMOs and insurance companies. Democrats prefer a complex
system of HMO and insurance industry regulation that nevertheless
maintains the latter's profits and their license to exclude the
poor, the old, the "high-risk."
An Uphill Climb
Over 75 percent of D.C. voters are registered Democratic, and the
Democrats boast the allegiance of unions and liberal political organizations.
The local Sierra Club, for example, regularly endorses Democrats
with weak knowledge and support of environmental issues over Green
and Statehood candidates with strong and uncompromising environmental
It's why unity, in the form of merger, is so necessary for the
kind of parties that refuse corporate contribution and influence.
Political campaigns and pounding the pavement for registrations
and donations will increase the membership incrementally. A few
hundred new registrations a year do little to challenge the two-party
Party alliances, joint slates, coalitions, and fusion might serve
as useful steps, but it's the natural tendency of political parties
to compete with each other for registrants and for elected office.
In a single party competition is resolved in primary elections or
at conventions. Merger is scary; many of us grow comfortable in
our little activist niche. We also risk disharmony and controversy
in the new party--so do all activist organizations on the left.
But we've noticed greater differences of opinion within the Statehood
and Green Parties than between the two. Indeed, debate within a
political organization makes it lively and newsworthy, something
sectarian leftists seldom understand. Hence the ancient complaint,
"Why can't the left ever unite?"
With over 4,000 registered voters, the Green-Statehood merger will
create in D.C. the largest Green Party in the U.S. in proportion
to the voting population. It also unites white progressives perceived
(wrongly) as devoted solely to the environment with mixed-race veteran
activists perceived (wrongly) as obsessed solely with the statehood
The merger brings the D.C. Statehood Party into a national network,
with membership in the Association of State Green Parties, and into
the international Green movement. The degradation of neighborhoods
and lack of autonomy suffered by people in Washington, D.C., perhaps
doesn't match the wholesale exploitation of people and resources
in places like Chiapas, Mexico, but American Greens and the Partido
Verde Ecologico de Mexico understand the common cause of social,
economic, and environmental justice and freedom for all.
Basis for Progressive Third Party Campaigns
Neither the D.C. Statehood Party nor Green Party accept corporate
money--nor will the D.C. Statehood Green Party. This gives us some
powerful leverage in the argument for campaign finance reform. Democrats,
Republicans and Reform Party folks make noises about it but will
never enact true reform. They'll always find ways for CEOs and investors
to fill up their coffers--it's their life-blood.
It gives us license to challenge the public: "Do you believe in
campaign finance reform? Do you believe that corporate special interests
have taken over our political processes, our elections, our government,
our neighborhoods, our environment, our lives? Then take the pledge:
I will vote for no candidate who accepts money from corporations."
Such a campaign would neutralize objections by the ACLU that contribution
limits violate the First Amendment. It would challenge and expose
the financial loyalties of the entrenched parties and place the
responsibility for democratic renewal into the hands of the people.
If Green, Labor, and other progressive third parties can unite
and--even better--merge under such a banner, it'll put us on the
(Scott McLarty is a member of the Steering Committee of the
D.C. Green Party, and a member of the Labor Party.)
The Central Virginia Electric Cooperative
Agrees to Pesticide Restrictions
The Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC) has agreed to
provide a "right-of-refusal" regarding pesticide use on powerline
easements in Montebello. After long negotiations with the Montebello
Clean Mountain Coalition (MCMC), Montebello residents were mailed
a letter that informed them on how to go about requesting that CVEC
not use chemicals on their property.
MCMC has confirmed that CVEC intends to make this policy system-wide
and will be very happy to discuss their options with you and will
honor your choice.
MCMC is not disbanding. . . . they're just getting
started! The Virginia Save Our Streams program has designated the
Tye River Headwater System as one of 28 official stream monitoring
sites in Virginia as a result of MCMC members, now trained, who
will monitor the streams from Montebello to Tyro. They will be providing
official data on the health of the system to the Virginia Department
MCMC members are also--with help from the Virginia Native Plant
Society--developing a program for identifying, cataloging and mapping
rare indigenous plants. The information gathered from these efforts
will establish the much needed baseline of data, essential for determining
and maintaining the current and future health of Montebello's precious
MCMC future endeavors include validating historical and current
medical information on Montebello residents and participation in
a program that will research the incredible butterfly populations
that migrate through the mountains twice a year.
Finally, and most importantly, MCMC is taking the issues of "notification"
and a "right-of-refusal" to the Virginia Department of Agriculture,
Pesticide Enforcement Board to insure that no other Virginia community
faces unwanted pesticides.
MCMC is pleased to be able to hold CVEC's new policy up as a positive
example of what can be done. We hope you will join MCMC in thanking
the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative for taking this important
and progressive step!
--Sherri Smith, MCMC
(To learn more about
this effort or to volunteer your support, contact the Montebello
Clean Mountain Coalition, P.O. Box 18, Montebello, Va. 24464 (540-377-9132,
Greens State Meeting
The Green Party of Virginia will hold its fall meeting from 11
a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 9 in the Rockingham Public Library, 45 Newman
Avenue in Harrisonburg. There will be a lunch break from 1 to 2:15
p.m. Call (540) 434-4475 for information.
Directions: From the Northern Va. take I-66 West to I-81 South.
Turn right on US-33 West (exit 247), E. Market St., and go Northwest
for 1.7 miles. Turn left on US-11, South Main St., and go south
for about 300 ft. to 45 Newman Ave.
From Roanoke or Blacksburg: Take I-81 north (then exit 247, 33
West and etc.)
From Tidewater, Richmond, Charlottesville: take I-64 west to I-81
Green News Briefs
Councilor Backs Governor's Call for Drug-Law Talks
New Mexican Governor Gary Johnson's call for a dialogue on drug
law reform has found an ally in noted Green Party member and Santa
Fe City Councilor, Chris Moore. He said the Republican governor's
call for a re-examination of laws for some soft-drug use, such as
marijuana, is worth consideration.
Moore acknowledged he agrees with few issues Johnson supports,
but said this was one time he agreed with the governor.
"Smoking marijuana is stupid, boring and harmful, but to say it
should be illegal while tobacco and alcohol is fine, is inconsistent,"
Moore said. "There's an issue that's taking away personal freedom,
which I don't agree with," he added.
Johnson's office greeted the news warmly.
California Greens Considering Nader For Nomination.
Members of the California Green Party camped in Santa Barbara to
conduct a straw poll on presidential hopefuls.
Fifty-four delegates who represented 10 active regions from Arcata
to San Diego had an agenda filled with political and social justice
issues, not the least of which was a decision whether to place the
name of consumer activist Ralph Nader on the state's primary ballot.
The majority of the delegates agreed on Nader, the 1996 presidential
candidate for the party.
To place a candidate on the March primary ballot, the state party
has to have a presidential candidate's name readied by Nov. 8. The
party asked Nader whether he would consider having his name placed
into consideration, and he agreed.
The party has also asked filmmaker/political commentator Michael
Moore, former U.S. Justice Department nominee Lani Guinier, and
author-lecturer Marianne Williamson to consider the nomination.
Nader has said he will not decide until after January whether he
will actually run for president. He did indicate, however, that
if he does run it will be an active campaign, with stops in every
"Grandpa" Lewis forming Senate committee
Dismissing potential rivals Rudolph Giuliani and Hillary Rodham
Clinton as "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum," actor Al "Grandpa" Lewis
said recently he was forming a Senate exploratory committee.
The cigar-chomping, blunt-speaking Lewis, most famous for his portrayal
of "Grandpa" on the hit '60s television series "The Munsters," ran
unsuccessfully for governor of New York last year on the Green Party
In losing the governor's race, Lewis did get 52,533 votes, enough
to clear the 50,000-vote requirement needed to earn the Green Party
an automatic spot on the New York ballot for the next four years.
International Green News
Strength of European Green Parliamentarians Growing
Brussels-- Today, 12 countries in the 15-member European Union
have Green parties.
They sit in five coalition governments--Finland, the first country
to have a Green Cabinet member, Belgium, France, Italy and, most
prominently, Germany, Europe's biggest country.
Outside the EU, they have made gains this year in eastern Europe,
with Cabinet ministers in Poland and Slovakia.
In June, Greens upped their numbers in the 626-member European
Parliament from 27 to 47. In the elections, the Greens doubled their
vote in Britain, France, and the Netherlands, and they dramatically
increased their share of the vote everywhere except in Germany and
Italy, where it fell slightly.
Next month, Michaele Schreyer, a German environmentalist, is expected
to be confirmed as the first Green to sit on the 20-member European
Commission, which oversees the administration of the European Union.
Green Influence Likely to Increase Europe/U.S. Trade Wars
U.K.-- The growing influence of Greens in government makes
it likely that trade wars between the United States and the European
Union will become more common. The Greens have led European opposition
to the import of U.S. beef from hormone-treated livestock and to
the testing of genetically-modified crops, most of them produced
by U.S.-based multinational corporations.
As Europe increasingly becomes a region without economic borders,
the Greens are also emerging as the leading opponents to the creation
of large markets that exploit economies of scale, seeing the movement
of food and products over long distances as a needless waste of
gasoline and a threat to the small, local shops where most Europeans
do their shopping.
"We're at a turning point," said Kevin Saunders, a leading member
of the British Green Party. "One of the things Green parties across
the world are working for is a closer relationship between the consumer
and the producer; the whole idea of getting markets closer to people.
Why ship cauliflower halfway across Europe when you can get it grown
locally? This is about revitalizing communities, it's about saving
the local shop from being swallowed up by the supermarkets. It's
moving back 40 or 50 years."
Told that sounds more reactionary than radical, he laughed. "Maybe
now we're radical conservatives," he said.
French Green Party Threatens to Pull Out of Coalition
France-- France's Green Party, emboldened by a good showing
in the recent elections for the European Parliament, has threatened
to pull out of the Government coalition if Prime Minister Lionel
Jospin approves a new generation of nuclear power stations to replace
The Greens, who joined Mr. Jospin's Government in 1997, have always
insisted that the nuclear energy issue is at the center of their
policy concerns. But even though the Green leader, Dominique Voynet,
serves as Environment Minister, the party says it is being ignored
on vital questions inside the coalition.
The issue at hand is the coming debate on energy policy. Its central
question is whether France will reduce its dependence on nuclear
energy and turn to other sources. France's 57 nuclear reactors provide
78 percent of the country's energy, one of the highest rates in
German Greens to Seek Tax on Nuclear Power
Germany-- The German Green party will seek the introduction
of a tax on nuclear power from the Social Democrat-Green coalition
government, said Antje Radcke, co-leader of the Greens.
Speaking on Suedwestrundfunk radio, Radcke said her party rejects
the government subsidizing nuclear power, while taxing natural gas
as an energy source.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is meeting with officials to discuss
the government's planned economic reforms, including hikes in energy
taxes as part of the "ecological tax reform."
An Alternative to Private Car Ownership
Germany-- Though long revered as a symbol of freedom and prosperity,
Germans are increasingly learning to live without private cars.
Such things as $5-a-gallon-gasoline, congestion, accidents, and
air pollution are encouraging many to sign on to car sharing plans.
Michael Glotz-Richter, a Green Party Senator who helped get the
program started in 1990, says the popularity of the plan is due
to the flexibility of having access to a car without the expense
or hassle of ownership.
In Bremen, cars can be rented in 37 city locations. For approximately
$40, a resident buys a smart card that allows one to make reservations
and gain access to cars in lots all over the city. Drivers can choose
cars from sub-compacts up to vans. Recognition of the smart card
is through a transponder field on the windshield that opens the
doors. When the car is returned, swiping the card across the windshield
locks the car and transmits all the data needed for monthly billing.
A study commissioned by the E.U. indicted that if applied across
the Union, such programs could reduce overall car mileage by as
much as 20 billion miles a year. The subsequent reduction in carbon
monoxide emissions could amount to as much as 5 million tons per
Austrian Green Calls for Arrest of Visiting Iraqi Aide
Austria-- In Austria recently, a leading Green, Peter Pilz,
lambasted the government for allowing a top aide to Iraq's President
Saddam Hussein to obtain medical treatment in Vienna.
While Pilz catalogued Izzat Ibrahim al-Durri's alleged involvement
in mass killings of Kurds in northern Iraq, and filed a complaint
seeking his arrest, an embarrassed Austrian government acknowledged
it had granted a one-month visa for humanitarian reasons and said
Ibrahim had diplomatic immunity.
"I am ashamed of the Austrian government," Pilz said. "The country
is becoming a paradise for mass murderers."
GM Watchdog to Reconsider Salmon, Canola
New Zealand-- Controls on experiments with genetically modified
salmon and canola need to be reassessed, the government watchdog
for such projects says.
The Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma) said current
controls on experiments by Nelson-based New Zealand King Salmon
may not be strong enough. The experiments attracted controversy
earlier this year after the Green Party released papers showing
a public relations company advised King Salmon staff not to mention
to outsiders "issues such as deformities, lumps on heads, etc."
for fear of causing panic.
King Salmon has been conducting the research for four years, obtaining
government approval before Erma was set up. It has been breeding
fish with an extra growth-controlling gene to see if they will grow
Protest Against Forest Amendment Measure
New Zealand-- Opponents of the government's controversial
Forest Amendment Bill have met outside Parliament to demonstrate
their feelings as hearings on the bill start.
Waving a "jobs not chips" banner, Green Party members and co-leader
Rod Donald joined Native Forest Action members and others opposed
to what Mr. Donald called the bill's destructive features.
"While we support the government's efforts to conserve the forests
which come under the Silna (South Island Landless Natives Act),
the rest of the bill represents a major step backwards for conservation
in New Zealand," he said.
Mr. Donald said public submissions were overwhelmingly opposed
to Timberlands West Coast's "continued destruction" of forests such
as the 6400ha Orikaka Forest, home to the great spotted kiwi, kaka,
parakeets, and other threatened species.
Latvian Greens Forgiven for Storming Lithuanian Oil Terminal
Lithuania-- The Palanga seaside resort police have decided
not to institute criminal proceedings against four Latvian Green
Party members for storming the buoy at the Butinge oil terminal.
The police told the Butinge oil terminal administration that criminal
proceedings could not be instituted against the four because there
was no high-handedness, resisting the police, insulting a police
officer or elements of hooliganism in the actions of the Latvian
In the early hours of July 21, four Latvian greens had chained
themselves to a buoy of the Butinge oil terminal, having crossed
the Lithuanian marine border illegally. This effectively has delayed
the filling up of Butinge's first ever tanker with oil.
Lithuanian border police officers removed the Latvians from the
buoy and deported them from the country.
What's In the Big-Box?
by Alexis Zeigler
A group of local concerned citizens in the Charlottesville area
and environmental groups, including the Shenandoah Eco Defense Group
(SEDG), Appalachian Restoration Campaign (ARC), the Charlottesville/
Albemarle Bicycling Association (CHABA), and Students for Environmental
Action (SEA), have come together to oppose the rezoning of a parcel
of land off Fifth Street to "Regional Service." We have been opposing
a "big box" development on this site. While 29 North already has
a substantial amount of retail development, many in Charlottesville
feel that Fifth Street extended has a much different character because
of its proximity to the city.
(They must have been delighted when on Sept. 15 the property
owner, Brass Inc., withdrew its application to rezone the site of
the proposed 160,000-sq.ft. megastore. The company's attorney, Steven
Blaine, cited new requirements for development of the site by the
county's Department of Planning and Community Development as the
reason for the withdrawal. --Editor's update)
But beyond this project, other communities should note that in
seeking to understand the possible effects of a "big box" development
off of Fifth Street, we have purchased a number of studies conducted
in cities and towns around the country before and after the arrival
of Wal-Mart and other "big box" developments. Highlights of these
studies follow. Copies of the studies were given to Susan Thomas
in the County Planning office, (and may have turned the tide
in this case. --Editor's note)
Q1: Are "big box" prices good for consumers?
A: According to Kenneth E. Stone of Iowa State University, Wal-Mart
"has created an illusion that the prices of each of the 75,000 products
carried in a typical Wal-Mart store are the lowest. In fact, that
is only true for about 1 percent of the products, but those products
are the ones popular with consumers--General Electric lightbulbs,
name-brand shampoos, deodorants and cleaning products," Stone said.
"The vast majority of them are the same price in every Wal-Mart
store in the United States," he said. "Six hundred to 800 items
will be competitive and they'll shop [check prices of] the competition
on them." People get used to seeing those items and simply assume
everything else in the store is a similar deal, Stone said.
Q2: Doesn't the high-volume purchasing of "big box" retailers allow
them to pass on savings to consumers? Isn't't it fair competition
for the lowest-cost retailer to dominate the market?
A: The market operates to the benefit of the consumer and our nation
if it is free of monopoly influences. "Big box" retailers do not
practice fair trade in a free market. The "big box" retailers cut
prices long enough to weaken competition, then raise them. According
to The Wall Street Journal, "Wal-Mart uses its size and clout to
bleed its rivals dry." Wal-Mart has been sued and convicted for
unfair trade practices.
According to a study by Thomas Muller of a proposed Wal-Mart in
Woodstock, Va., "It is not reasonable to assume that when one store
dominates a market to the extent projected in this case that a monopoly
can be avoided. In fact, monopoly conditions have been considered
inconsistent with the concept of free enterprise for over a century."
It is widely recognized that free market activity should be regulated
to eliminate child labor, unsafe working conditions, limit pollution,
and stop false advertising. "Big-box" retailers practice unfair
trade. Their market power is used to their benefit, not the benefit
Q3: Does Big Box growth bring jobs?
A: While the promoters of Wal-Mart and other similar "big box"
retail stores point out the direct employment that is created by
such stores, they almost never take into account the broader economic
effects to the surrounding area. One study of three cities and seven
counties in Iowa found that "84% of all sales at the Wal-Mart stores
come at the expense of existing businesses within the counties."
Each dollar of sales at "big box" retailers generates less employment
than each dollar of sales at local retailers. The net result is
that "although there is an initial increase in general merchandise
employment in the year Wal-Mart opens, this gain is at least partially
offset over time as employment in this category declines. Other
retail sectors competitive with Wal-Mart were found to have employment
gains below what would be expected given local economic growth."
Other studies have indicated that "in exchange for 1 new part-time
job in a mega-discount chain, about 1½ full time jobs were eliminated
in smaller stores."
According to an article in the American Planning Association Journal
concerning a Wal-Mart development in Talbot County Maryland, "it
was noted that the numbers of establishments and employees have
declined since the store chain's arrival in 1991 . . .
7 of the 13 industries that might compete with Wal-Mart experienced
declines in employment totalling 435 jobs. While representatives
of Wal-Mart claim to bring jobs and prosperity to localities, a
closer look at the larger picture shows that, in the case of Talbot
County, there has been a net loss of jobs . . ."
The studies of "big box" retailers consistently indicate that any
stores in direct competition with "big box" predatory pricing can
expect significant declines. While 29 North already hosts "big box"
retail, downtown Charlottesville is buffered from its impact by
the distance and unpleasantness of strip development on route 29.
Placing "big box" development on the southern border of the city
may or may not represent a net gain for the county, but there is
no doubting, based on extensive study in other communities, that
the City of Charlottesville and its downtown businesses will suffer.
Businesses in competition with the "big box" retailer will suffer
The Charlottesville/Albemarle area has a strong economy and low
unemployment, therefore the negative economic effects of "big box"
retail are likely to be largely absorbed in overall growth trends.
But given our strong employment position, why pursue "big box" development?
The "associate" positions offered by "big box" retailers come without
job security or benefits associated with full time employment in
a civilized society.
Brass Inc. recognized that a Community Service designation (NOT
the "big box") would result in more jobs. Such jobs are likely to
be of much higher quality than "big box" retail. The purported benefits
of the "big box" were based solely on the site itself and ignore
broader regional influences. The broader effect of "big box" development
should be taken seriously.
Q4: Does "big box" growth increase tax revenues?
A: Direct sale tax revenues from "big box" development will go
directly to the county. However, studies in other areas suggest
that negative effects in the broader region can offset these gains.
As a result of the predatory practices of "big box" retailers, other
stores in direct competition can expect to see a reduction in sales
and property values. As a result, there may or may not be an overall
increase in taxable economic activity, particularly over the long
run. Property values in some Iowa towns with Wal-Marts near their
commercial centers have declined by 16% to 20%. The Iowa study further
indicates that "although the local tax base added about $2 million
with each Wal-Mart, the decline in retail stores following the opening
had a depressing effect on property values in downtowns and on shopping
strips, probably offsetting the gains from the Wal-Mart property."
Again, the growth of Albemarle County may absorb these negative
effects, but the city will suffer. Given that we have so many better
choices, why invite economic growth with such negative effects?
Q5: Does "big box" growth stimulate other economic growth in the
A: "Big box" development does stimulate growth of its own stores
to its own benefit, but the greater geographical area does not necessarily
benefit. The State Environmental Board in St. Albans, Vt., projected
that the cost of a proposed Wal-Mart project would be "more than
2.5 dollars of public cost for each dollar of public benefit."
The study of Iowa towns and counties found that "there were clearly
identified losses in downtown stores after Wal-Mart opened. General
merchandise stores were most effected. Other types of stores that
closed include: automotive stores, hardware stores, drug stores,
shoe stores, apparel stores, and sporting goods stores. Some restaurant
closings were also noted."
The Planning Board of New Paltz, N.Y., in considering a proposed
Wal-Mart near their city, found that "the proposed plaza is inconsistent
with the development goals set forth by the Comprehensive Plan . . .
the introduction of a big box retailer to New Paltz would result
in a shift in the location of businesses, a movement of trade away
from the traditional downtown centers, a decline of other retail
centers . . . large percentages of downtown businesses
would be harmed, older buildings may become vacant . . .
and any unique community character would be undermined and instead
replaced by the lowest common denominator."
In considering a Wal-Mart near their downtown, the Planning Board
of North Elba, N.Y. commissioned a study. Upon obtaining the results
of that study, the Planning Board ruled that "the project will likely
result in a large amount of effected retail space, which could take
up to 14 years to refill, over 20,000-sq.ft. of which could become
chronically vacant . . . such loss would have economic
effects on the remaining merchants resulting in a downward spiral
in which increasing numbers of businesses close their doors."
In Greenfield, Mass., an Economic Impact Assessment of the construction
of a 134,272-sq.ft. Wal-Mart--paid for by Wal-Mart--found that "their
project would lead to a loss of 239,000-sq.ft. in retail space,
with a loss of nearly $36 million to existing businesses, and instead
of 177 new jobs at Wal-Mart, 148 jobs would be lost at other businesses,
leaving a net of 29 jobs . . ."
According to Kenneth Stone, the Iowa State University Professor
who has spent many years studying Wal-Mart, "Some people misinterpret
the sales changes after a Wal-Mart store comes into a town. They
observe an increase in general merchandise sales and in total sales
and believe that all is well. But, upon further study, it is clear
that Wal-Mart gains are at the expense of other merchants."
A final note of caution should be taken from a report issued by
the Congressional Research Service that "gains in a town's retail
trade area that are documented in the first four years after a Wal-Mart
arrives may actually decline in 25 to 30 percent of the cases after
four years. "Big box" retailers can also be highly mobile, moving
their stores to suit their highest profit with no concern for local
adverse effects. Wal-Mart in particular has over 330 empty stores.
Wal-Mart leaves its dead stores behind, much to the consternation
of local officials. Wal-Mart has shed hundreds of stores just to
move into bigger facilities with wider aisles. Most of these relocations
have been in towns where Wal-Mart shuts down the discount store
to open up a larger superstore across the street, down the block,
or just over the town line . . . These buildings
are spread across 31 states. Only 17% of these stores are owned
by Wal-Mart, 83% are leased. This means that 10.5% of Wal-Mart's
total stores are empty as of this month . . . In
February, 54 of the stores listed are 'new' to the list." "Quite
frankly," admitted Wal-Mart's former Executive Vice President for
Real Estate Construction, Tom Seay, "I think the fact that we relocate
stores--and we relocate a lot of them--is a well-known fact in the
development community . . ."
Q6: Why should the Comprehensive Plan be amended for personal profit?
A: It would appear that the driving force behind this debate is
the fact that one wealthy developer has not been able to sell his
property. If the county Comprehensive Plan is to be amended for
the sake of private interests, shouldn't such privileges be extended
to the rest of us?
(Full studies available at Albemarle County Planning and Community
Development. Studies compiled by Alexis Zeigler, email@example.com
Blue Ridge 2020
Too often books that inform don't please. Steve Nash, an associate
professor of journalism at the University of Richmond, manages both.
Blue Ridge 2020 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press,
1999) is readable, provocative, and clear. It questions our assumptions
and smooths out the rough spots in our arguments. For Virginians,
he is talking about home--not an abstract treatment of global warming
or some other possible environmental disaster-in-waiting--but where
we live. Like others, I know the "view-killing haze" that obscures
the mountains we have "loved to death."
He presents the situation, the multiple factors behind the situation,
and the solutions. Yes, solutions and, better yet, nicely presented
in little gray boxes for easy reference. This book answers one of
our most vexing weaknesses as environmentalists: we can point out
the problems, moan and complain, but what to do?
The author paints the Blue Ridge picture with stories, little stories
with big consequences or possible consequences such as the time
Asian gypsy moths reached the shores of North Carolina on a cargo
ship but were fortunately contained thanks to a federal plant protection
officer. So what? Well, European female gypsy moths (the ones we
already know) don't fly so need human "help" to spread, but the
Asian moths can and do, sometimes for several hours at a time.
Steve has agreed to let us print snippets of the book. After describing
the surprising regeneration of a seriously flooded area in only
one year, he explains, "So what basis do we have for accepting the
natural disturbances and worrying about the human-made ones? It's
a question, scientists say, of their intensity, scale, and frequency.
There's a difference between a haircut and a decapitation; between
falling down stairs once and doing it on a weekly basis; between
catching a cold and catching tuberculosis. In our era, the human
disturbances are paramount. The extermination of predators, the
construction of dams, alien plant and insect invasions, thousands
of tracts of land cleared each year for houses, stores, and roads--these
are often more widespread, as well as more frequent, more sudden,
and more permanent. They compound the effects of both natural disturbances
and other, human ones."
Elsewhere he points out why we must start today and why we must
listen to each other, "No one can say . . . how completely
the Saint Mary's and similar watersheds in the Blue Ridge might
recover, but it is safe to assume that the less we poison, the more
we can salvage. Perhaps, like me, you've never caught a brook trout
and have rarely seen one. Maybe the disappearance of some bugs and
water plants doesn't tug at the heartstrings. Understandable. But
I like the cheerful way outdoor writer Ted Kerasote once sketched
the picture: 'Most environmental problems . . . haven't
affected, and probably won't affect, all of us in a direct way.
But if they do--a favorite stream now fishless, a little bit of
melanoma behind the ear--you'll feel it. And sooner or later some
unwelcome industrial spinoff will touch almost all of us, which
means that paying attention to one guy's acid rain may ensure that
when your own little war heats up, you have some friends to call
In a chapter titled, appropriately and chillingly, "Pallbearers,"
the author reminds us, "If you're uninclined to gamble with the
health of the forests, such warnings are a call to arms. Paradoxically,
they can also serve to rationalize a wait-and-see policy for those
who insist on full scientific certainty. Calls for more research
are easy to justify--more data is always a good thing--and from
there it's just another half step, rhetorically, to argue against
With maps, graphs, stories, and relevant data, Steve Nash has provided
a sensitive and sensible field guide to saving the Blue Ridge from
Virginia to Georgia. This is a book one can easily wear out through
Book review by Sherry Stanley
Affirmative Action under Attack on Virginia Campuses
by Roger Clarke
Fall '99 in Virginia finds conservatives waging a campaign against
the approximately 400,000 citizens across the state pursuing higher
Conservatives are at the point of erasing students' long-held right
to choose to vote in the races affecting the district in which they
attend school, and hence reside for the great part of a given year.
This "students' right to vote" has empowered and enfranchised students
for decades, connecting those who wish to contribute to their college
community through just and equitable recognition of their inherent
and full responsibilities as citizens where they reside.
Even more alarming is the fierce and destructive conservative effort
to dismantle Affirmative Action in Virginia's public colleges. Another
decades-old doctrine by which historically marginalized peoples
have finally been able, through great effort, to expand their academic
and economic horizons, and to at least aspire to full and equal
participation in our society is now being gutted in state after
state--and now in Virginia.
For centuries society's elite has reveled in a rigged-game of dominance
that privileges them through discrimination and oppression by race,
class, sex and age. In an historical, cultural sense, a privileged-class
of white-males has operated collectively to jealously guard their
position. It is nonetheless shocking that the unveiling of the next
century should reveal an unreconstructed right that is within sight
of a systematic victory that would damage, deface and demean our
Are these basic issues sexy enough for Greens and progressives
to view as vital? Voting rights and civil rights are at the bedrock,
defining principles of a free and just society. This reactionary
threat is clear and imminent. Greens, progressives and still-conscious
liberals must rise immediately to counter these threats by alerting
and organizing widespread campus opposition.
Specifically, Virginia Greens and their allies must energize themselves
by recalling that the Ten Key Values set forth these important principles:
social justice, diversity, local decision-making, community involvement,
citizens' rights and responsibilities, and altruism toward coming
generations. Activism and commitment to full engagement on these
issues will find an unassailable ground of belief in these wise
principles and a generous wellspring of renewal for the necessary
Historically, students' rights have been trampled and truncated
by legislatures and administrations serving as functionaries of
a ruling class whose prime objective is not a person's education
but rather the further consolidation of power through the continuous
replication of a docile and uncritical supply of upper-middle class
managers and overseers.
That some fraction of the student population runs this gauntlet
with intact integrity, critical ability, clear vision, and undaunted
resolve to work for social change is itself miraculous and wonderful.
Such courage and strength deserves the unfailing support of a Green
movement. Natural allies--greens, progressives, minorities, women
and critical students all have known and felt the oppression of
the dominator class.
We must not permit the dismantling of the crucial and irreplaceable
bases that the campuses comprise. Join immediately with all Virginians
committed to democratic ideals, to rapidly alert others and organize.
Roger Clark welcomes your comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Action Work List, Fall 1999 - 2000: Campus
- Make and strengthen connections with and among students at nearby
campuses, organizing and energizing against the loss of voting
rights and Affirmative Action.
- Make student newspapers a vibrant forum for op-ed pieces and
letters; the effort should be sustained.
- Offer to make focused presentations on these issues to activist
student groups; identify community speakers.
- Download and disseminate--or create--issue outlines and explanations.
Practice succinct expositions.
- Learn the details of the legislative history of 1999 House Bill
2083 (anti-student voting).
- Help students pressure their student governments, publications,
faculty, administrators, and boards of visitors.
- Help organize en masse lobbying trips to the January 2000 Virginia
General Assembly, early in the session.
- Identify and encourage several articulate leaders among critical
- In advance of the session, lobby all 40 Senators and the Lieutenant
Governor (tie-vote breaker).
- Encourage students to be seen and heard at student rallies,
inform electronic news media, and the press, of the event.
- Propagate knowledge of various universities' "diversity" (search
term) web-resource sites.
As your new editor I'd like to continue with the tradition of thanking
all those who contributed to this edition. Roger Clarke, Muriel
Grim, Scott McLarty, Sherri Smith, Sherry Stanley, and Alexis Zeigler.
And much thanks to Gerry Cervenka (layout), and X-High Graphics
of Elkton (printing).
Northern Virginia News
Monthly NoVA Greens meetings now alternate between a business meeting
and a "presentation" meeting. The next meeting, Sunday, Oct. 3,
will be a presentation meeting with a demonstration of the program
being developed to teach alternative voting concepts, with NoVA
Green-endorsed candidates seeking volunteers to work on their campaigns.
The 10 Key Values Awards Committee has expanded to include members
of the D.C. Greens and the Maryland Greens also are being invited
to join. The first awards banquet will be held in Washington, D.C.
in April 2001. Local organizations and activists who exemplify each
of the 10 Key Values will be honored. The committee will be working
on the meeting logistics and fund raising.
The Alternative Voting Education project's presentation explaining
the meaning of Preference Voting and Instant Runoff Voting is close
to completion. It will be critiqued by the NoVA Greens at the October
meeting and then by some Girl Scouts who use Preference Voting.
After critiquing, it will be ready for presentation at local schools.
The Traffic Reduction project will introduce the citizen survey,
"What do YOU need so that You can reduce YOUR unwanted driving?"
at the Oct. 2 Family Rally ("A New Vision for the Beltway"), sponsored
by the Fairfax Coalition for Smart Growth. Plans are underway to
distribute the survey in North Springfield to test citizen response,
and, if all goes well, begin to get people interested in participating
in making "Less Miles Traveled" happen for them.
A hardy group of volunteers continues to clean the NoVA Greens'
adopted highway. This project is now in its second year.
Interactions: A Compendium of Green Actions
Learn to perform wildlife species surveys; for interested small
groups, in Virginia's beautiful countryside. Call Jeff Trollinger
at the Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries to request materials
and to sign-up: tel.(804) 367-8747.
Stop the planned destruction by dam of the Mattaponi Reservation.
Call Todd Big Eagle Custalow, economic development director of the
Mattaponi, to find out how you can help: tel. (804) 769-7745.
Virginia has rapidly become the second worst state in the nation
in the destruction of wetlands through ditching and draining--over
600,000 acres have been lost. Call Glen Besa, executive director
of the Sierra Club in Virginia, to participate in coordinated action
to turn this travesty around: tel. (804) 225-9113.
The Democracy Coalition for reform of campaign finance in Virginia
is reaching out to Greens and others to gain their input and support
in 200001. Call Administrative Director Marjorie Frame Sargent
of the Horizon Institute to offer your name as a volunteer in this
crucial endeavor: tel. (804) 295-0295: web: horizoninstitute.org.
The Labor Action Group at UVa advocates strongly for a living wage
for the many workers at UVa who are paid far less than is just or
adequate. E-mail LAG to learn how to replicate their inclusive,
effective efforts: email@example.com.
The NAACP has issued a national alert requesting all for whom social
justice is paramount to work quickly to defend affirmative action
at Virginia's public colleges and universities. Encourage discussion
of and activism around such a defense at nearby public colleges
Virginia's college students' right to vote is threatened by the
Virginia General Assembly. Go to leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?991+sum+HB2083
to learn about the offending legislation and those who voted for
it. E-mail Virginia Students' Right to Vote in order to organize,
learn more and coordinate actions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help plan a renaissance of Passenger and Commuter Rail for Virginia.
Support U.S. Senate Bill 1144 to reallocate transportation tax revenues
to this effort. Get in touch with Rex Hammond, chair of the Lynchburg
Chamber of Commerce (tel. (804) 845-5966) who is leading this exciting
and far-sighted plan to bring serious transportation alternatives
to the state.
Voracious "chip mills" are proliferating in the lo-reg, no-reg
Southeastern forests of the U.S. Network through SEDG, the Shenandoah
Ecosystems Defense Group, to defend our forested public lands. Offer
SEDG your help and support for their "frontlines" work: tel. (804)
Oct. 9: Greens of Virginia State Meeting--Rockingham Public Library,
Harrisonburg. 11 a.m.5 p.m.
Oct 16: Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty Annual
Conference, ST. Mark Lutheran Church, Charlottesville, 9:30 a.m.3:30
p.m. Donation registration appreciated, lunch provided. Delegate
Jim Almand, chief sponsor of the Capital Case Bill of review which
calls for the repeal of the 21-day rule will be the special guest.
Also: Strategy Session on Moratorium on the Death Penalty conducted
by Marie Deans, and Rob Lee of VA Capital Representation Resource
Center will give status of current appeals by death row inmates
in Virginia. Call toll free: 888/567-VADP. fax:804/263-4331, or
email: email@example.com to register or for more info.
Nov. 2: Central Virginia Greens, Monthly Meeting, 6 to 8 p.m.,
Central Branch Library, Charlottesville.
Nov. 7: NoVA Greens, Monthly Business Meeting, 2 to 5 p.m., 5408
Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria.
Dec. 5: NoVA Greens, Monthly Business Meeting, 2 to 5 p.m., 5408
Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria.
Dec. 7: Central Virginia Greens, Monthly Meeting, 6 to 8 p.m.,
Central Branch Library, Charlottesville.
Iraqis Continue to Suffer Extreme Deprivation
I spent 10 days in Iraq at the beginning of August as part of the
24th Voices in the Wilderness delegation to visit Iraq since 1996.
Voices is a peace organization devoted to ending the U.S. War against
Iraq; both the continuing bombings and the sanctions.
I went to Iraq to witness current conditions, and I delivered symbolic
amounts of medicine, and a few, small, stuffed animals to the children's
wards of hospitals in Iraq.
I knew what I was getting into before I left the States. I had
read the reports coming out of Iraq from UN agencies and NGOs on
the scene. I had seen the videos shot in the hospitals. I had listened
to the testimony of all the people who had gone before me. But nothing
could have prepared me for Iraq.
Nothing I read before my trip could have spoken to me of the beauty
of Baghdad, its combination of traditional and modern architecture,
its wide, tree-lined boulevards--each avenue sprouting date palms
and poplars. Baghdad is truly a green city. And nothing I saw earlier
could have shown me how terrible, how oppressive, sanctions have
Ten years ago, one dinar bought three U.S. dollars. Today, one
dollar buys 2,000 dinars. Ten years ago, One dinar bought 60 eggs.
Today, one egg is 100 dinars, and the average salary for a doctor
in a public hospital is $5 a month2½ eggs a day.
Nothing I had heard before I left could have told me how generous,
how kind, people have remained in the face of such incredible suffering.
On our first, full day in Iraq we went to the Amiriya Shelter,
where 1,200 civilians were killed in a U.S. missile attack on Valentine's
Day, 1991. It's now a shrine, watched over by Umm Reyda--who lost
her entire family in the attack.
The walls of Amiriya are black from the fire which consumed her
children, save for a few haunting images--handprints and body outlines
burned into the walls and ceiling. Pieces of boiled skin and hair
stick to the walls of the basement, where water pipes broke from
the explosion and flash-boiled those in the path of the steam. Today,
the walls are also covered with pictures--memorials to the dead.
Hardest of all were our visits to the hospitals. In one of the
richest countries in the world, we saw ward after ward filled with
dying children. We visited pediatric cancer wards and saw the children
that were sickened through the use of depleted uranium weapons.
If the sanctions were lifted, most of these children could be cured
(the cure rate for childhood leukemia is over 90 percent). Not only
are the medicines these children need unavailable because of sanctions,
but morphine and other painkillers are also in short supply. So
these children wait to die, and they spend their last days in terrible
We visited pediatric malnutrition wards, and saw the starving children.
I saw their distended bellies, undernourished bodies, and oversized
heads. They did not have the strength to cry. The only sound these
babies could make was a weak, half-hearted wail.
Everywhere we went, in Baghdad, Basra and Ammara, people treated
us with kindness. Everywhere we went, we were told that their enmity
for the U.S. government did not reflect on us. As Stephen Kinzer
wrote for the New York Times last December, everywhere we went we
were told that an ugly America did not mean we were ugly Americans.
But most Americans support the bombings and the sanctions that have
caused the deaths of at least 1,000,000 people, and perhaps as many
as 2,000,000 since January of 1991. By and large, Americans see
nothing but Saddam Hussein.
Voices in the Wilderness, which was in Iraq during the bombings
in July, visited Najaf after the bombing there and took pictures
and collected fragments of the bomb. We're told, with 95 percent
certainty, that it was a cluster bomb, which is a weapon designed
to kill people and leave buildings intact.
We also heard complaints that the U.S. and British members of the
Sanctions Committee have approve some items, but disallow, or place
a hold on other complimentary items that are also needed. When we
were in Iraq, many were upset over this issue of dental chairs.
It seems the Iraqi government put in a request for tens of millions
of dollars of dental equipment. The Sanctions Committee approved
the sale of $24 million worth of dental chairs--but not of anything
else. Some think that now Iraq will be accused of hoarding dental
In the South of the country childhood mortality rates are higher
because it has less land under cultivation. Since the rivers flow
north-to-south, the South has more polluted water--contaminated
by sewage dumped raw into those rivers, along the whole breadth
of Iraq, because of bombed-out and aging treatment plants. The South
took much of the bombing during "Desert Storm.
The people of this region wanted us to know that thirty percent
of all the money in the "Oil-for-Food" program goes to pay reparations
to Kuwait, and to pay the UN's bills. All of that money, the entire
30 percent, comes out of the budget for the South. None of the reparations
come out of the UN's budget for the North.
--Ramsey Kysia, August 1999
For more information please visit:
The Iraq Action Coalition, http://www.iraqaction.org
EPIC--the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, http://leb.net/epic
Voices in the Wilderness, http://www.nonviolence.org/vitw
Barr Aims to Bar D.C. Medical Marijuana Initiative
Last year, citizens of the District of Columbia voted on Initiative
59, a ballot measure that would protect patients and health providers
who use marijuana in the case of certain illnesses. Members of the
D.C. Green and Statehood Parties collected several thousands of
the necessary signatures to get it on the ballot here. (ASGP, in
a show of support to D.C., democracy, and good health and drug policies,
passed a statement in favor of medical marijuana last year.)
But Congress, to which the U.S. Constitution gives supervision
and veto power over local legislation in D.C., blocked the D.C.
Board of Elections and Ethics even from counting the votes. None
of the other five or six states in the U.S. which passed medical
marijuana initiatives suffered the same assault on their democracy.
In none of these states has chaos ensued with enactment of such
A federal court agreed with our complaint against Congress, and
last week the votes cast in November 1998 were finally counted.
Initiative 59 passed overwhelmingly, with 69% in favor, and swept
We expect President Clinton to veto the current D.C. Appropriations
bill, which if passed would block Initiative 59's enactment. But
Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia and his friends intend to enter a separate
resolution in Congress, which will prevent D.C. from enacting this
ballot measure which we passed democratically.
. . . Please help us fight this tyranny!
Don't allow Congress to overrule a vote in a district they don't
represent. D.C. has no voting representation in Congress.
Would they dare to nullify an initiative passed in their own districts?
The issue of medical marijuana is only part of our concern--denial
of the right to vote for one's own rules puts us in the category
of repressive authoritarian regimes!
PLEASE call your Representative and your Senators and insist that
they allow Initiative 59 to be enacted in D.C. It's an issue of
democracy versus dictatorship!
Scott McLarty, D.C. Statehood Green Party
Welcome New Members
Blue Ridge Greens: Leigh Johnson, Jennifer Cox
Central Virginia Greens: Janet Gale, Theresa Perry,
Greens of Virginia: Joseph Hutchins, Matthew White, Stephen Gross,
Kevin Frances Hahne II, Nathan Mitchell, Gregory Quesenberry, Will
Carlucci, Brad Belo
New River Valley Greens: Kathleen Orion, Michael Scarborough, Brad
NOVA Greens: Ellen Harper, Chris Horvath, Nick Moore, Jerry Aldini,
Howard Shaker, Andrew Tarr
Rockbridge Greens: Anne Macaulay, Terri Bsullak, Bryant McCulley,
Maryam Broomall, Ellen Hopkins
Student Greens of Virginia: Daniel Johnson, Kelly Myers, Kathryn
Kauffman, Marina Spitkovskaya
Tidewater Greens: Henry Thompson, Nancy Woolery, Peter Maybarduk
Valley Greens: Jim Borkholder, Susan Gier, Ed Jankiewicz, Rich
McDonough, Cheri Fulmar, Cara & Kevin Swafford, Chrisina Bolgiano,
Louis Brown, Jeff Nicholson
Thank You Recent Contributors:
Central Virginia Greens: Diana Abbott, Theresa Perry
Greens of Virginia: Rolph Preisendorfer, Jack Balkwill, Joseph
Auth, Rich McDonough, Bill Fuller, Mal Graves, Alex LoCascio, Susan
Gier, Nathan Mitchell, Tim Lietzke
NOVA Greens: Rolph Preisendorfer
Rockbridge Greens: Adrienne Hall Bodie, Jo & Steve Parent