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Posts published in “Day: October 26, 2011”

Banning new big boxes

Hot times in Tacoma over big boxes: The city council is considering a moratorium on approving construction of new stores over 65,000 square feet in size. Continuing a moratorium, that is - the original six-month ban started on August 30, when the city council declared an emergency.

The council held a hearing on the moratorium on Tuesday night, and the circumstances were such (especially in this environment of encouraging any and all new businesses) that anti-moratorium arguments should have been at a peak. If they were, the big boxers should be concerned: Testimony was overwhelmingly in favor of continuing the ban, and quite a few speakers wanted to make it permanent.

(A quote from one resident: “If we are to build a resilient community that will not just survive but thrive … we need to think outside the big box and think inside the circle of community.”)

A Walmart application was the specific trigger for the action, but it would apply to any retailer seeking to build upwards of 65,000 square feet.

One of the opponents of the moratorium, as you might expect, is the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce, which bases its position in part "on there being an emergency because our regulations fail to address some issue. I've yet to hear any specific issue raised that is not addressable through existing regulations. Traffic, public services, parking - all there. Now, just because a tool is there does not mean it's going to be used. But failing to use it does not mean it is not there."

That sounds true enough, but it's a bit of a legalistic approach: Evidently quite a few people seemed to think there was, as a practical matter, an emergency. Or at least the need for a slowdown, and consideration of whether new big boxes really add to the economy, or just move money around, and into ever-fewer hands.

Carlson: Walking the plank

Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

Mike McGavick may be remembered by some as a charming, successful business executive who became the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2006 in the state of Washington but nonetheless lost to the dour and oft-times petulant incumbent, Maria Cantwell. Others may recall his leadership in turning around Safeco Insurance which was headed for the rocks until he came aboard.

My perspective is different than most. When I listen and look at Mike, I see a conscientious and conscience driven businessman, husband, father and friend who is a deep adherent to his Catholic faith. He practices what he preaches though he lets his actions speak: he attends daily Mass, prays, pays and where doctrine does not conflict with his conscience, obeys.

One knows instantly, he thinks deeply, cares passionately and works diligently at unraveling mysteries and history. Hands down he is one of the best speakers one can ever hear.

Now the chairman of XLGroup, one of the world’s large reinsurance firms, he gave a compelling speech this past summer at the Bishop’s Annual Luncheon in Bermuda on the challenges facing today’s Catholic Church. It was a speech that was sorely underreported.

Near the end he talked about some factors in common to achieving a successful turn around, one of which has resonated with many - the need for accountability for the Bishops who looked the other way, often deliberately, as abuse of children went on right under their nose.

As Mike put it, someone has to walk the plank not only to demonstrate that the Bishops fully intend to hold all accountable, but for the sake of their own creditability to hold themselves accountable. He wryly noted that to the date of his remarks no Bishop had yet to take that short walk.

Sooner or later some Bishop, though, would be too blatant in his defiance to be ignored or too egregious in his conduct and someone somewhere would pounce. On October 14th, it finally happened. (more…)