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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No Ontario Vineyard Village Association new stuff yet, but it's gonna come real soon now 

Witness this. I'll insert comments throughout.

Brushing aside warnings from Wal-Mart, the City Council approved an ordinance Wednesday that makes Chicago the biggest city in the nation to require big-box retailers to pay a "living wage."

"It's trying to get the largest companies in America to pay decent wages," said Alderman Toni Preckwinkle.

While allowing smaller companies in America to pay indecent wages, I guess. That must be OK.

The ordinance passed 35-14 after three hours of impassioned debate.

Good. At least 14 City Council members are sane.

The measure requires mega-retailers with over $1 billion in annual sales and stores of at least 90,000 square feet to pay workers at least $10 an hour in wages plus $3 in fringe benefits by mid-2010....

In other words, a very selective law which only targets a few firms (not just Wal Mart, as we'll see in a moment. If your company has less than $1 billion in sales, and if you build 89,000 square foot stores, then you can pay much lower wages (in the case of Illinois, $6.50 an hour). What is the rationale to have different living wages depending upon the size of your employer?

Wal-Mart spokesman John Bisio said earlier that if the measure passed, "We'd redirect our focus on our suburban strategy and see how we could better serve our city of Chicago residents from suburban Chicagoland."

Which is the City Council's intent all along. They don't care about living wages; they care about sticking it to evil Wal Mart. If they truly cared about living wages, then the minimum wage in Chicago would be set to $10 an hour for everybody. Why don't they do that?

Chicago has been at the center of the debate about the wages at big retailers ever since the city's rejection of a proposal by Wal-Mart to open a store on the South Side prompted the company to open a store just outside the city limits.

This is the fallacy of the Ontario Mountain Village Association and all the other do-gooders who prefer a vacant, graffiti-ridden property to a working Wal Mart. A few minutes before I started typing this blog post, I happened to get a call from my wife, who was shopping. She wasn't shopping in Ontario, because the Ontario Mountain Village Association doesn't want that. She was shopping in Chino.

Hope the other citizens of Ontario are happy. Our city is losing revenue.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

Hopefully it will be struck down on appeal. It sounds like the sort of issue full of sound and fury which causes councillors to be heard, and to "go on record" and so forth and all in all, will result in f-all.

Cities around here have faced the growth of super duper mega malls in the low taxed suburbs for a long time, and their answer now is to expand their city limits to unheard of distances. This may be resisted by the rural residents, but hey...they don't have many votes!

Ottawa was one of the worst...very white bread, very full of politicians of all stripes, who would debate the "issues" at the drop of a hat! The issue of "Sunday Shopping" and "6 o'clock closing" was a fine example. Ottawa councillors were adamantly against allowing stores to stay open past 6 o'clock and on Sunday, and so, after you get home from work, or on Sunday the only place you could get a loaf of bread was by getting in the car and going outside the city limits. And so they did. People did their grocery shopping on Sundays in big super stores outside the city. That was where they lived after all. The grocery stores in the city shut down, the streets of Ottawa were empty, businesses died like flies, and because there are fewer of them (25% of 20 years ago!) the property taxes and business taxes are much higher.

So now Ottawa, after the great 20 year Sunday Shopping experiment, has discovered that they have created a dead core of a city, a bright ring of activities all around the outside, and a culture which depends on the automobile to get survive.

Only in the last 5 years have city councillors decided that Sunday Shopping may not be the unGodly activity they all spouted off about, and decided to work for the betterment of their wards. You can now open your business in the evening or on Sunday if you wish. Or you may close and stay closed on Sunday if you wish. No Mall may demand a business stay open on Sunday, and in fact, when you walk through the mall on a Sunday, several stores are actually closed for the day. But it is still hard to attract business to downtown.
Interesting perspective. My only perspective on Ottawa was from visiting there on business trips, staying in the Westin (near Parliament Hill), but not actually having to LIVE there.

Luckily for me, Sunday shopping must have been repealed by the time I started traveling there, because there was one time that I desperately needed Sunday shopping. I flew from California to O'Hare one Saturday, changed planes, and went on to Ottawa. There was a short time between flights, but I made it.

My baggage didn't.

So it's Sunday, my bags still haven't arrived, and I have business meetings on Monday with nothing to wear. So I just hopped over to Eaton's, bought a dress shirt, but left it unopened so that I could return it if my baggage came through.

My baggage arrived 6:30 am Monday morning. Don't know what I would have done if the stores had been closed and my baggage didn't make it.

Since then I've always allotted sufficient time when changing planes. (Since planes don't serve real food any more, I prefer to allot two hours and eat at Atlanta or Dallas or wherever.)
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