Don’t say public officials in San Luis, Arizona don’t know what they are doing. Just because they banned a Wal-Mart two weeks ago, and this week reversed themselves, it just means they are open to “convincing” by Wal-Mart. Officials in this small border town passed an emergency ordinance banning any retailer from opening a store larger than 50,000-square-feet. A proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter would be nearly 200,000-square-feet. So Wal-Mart got busy and started putting the heat on these small town officials. And although they look totally arbitrary for doing an about-face — that’s exactly what they did. The local Chamber of Commerce got into the act, abandoning any loyalty to its small members who pay for most of its operating budget, claiming (without substantiation) that loss of Wal-Mart would mean a loss of jobs and sale taxes. They don’t really know that for sure, because no one has looked at the net impact this superstore will have on the local economy, but apparently the lure of more low-wage jobs was too much for the San Luis city council. According to the local press, the city council now welcomes Wal-Mart. The Mayor and the City’s lawyer met with Wal-Mart’s lawyer to begin to work out terms. Hmmm. Do you suppose Wal-Mart’s lawyer mentioned that his client might take the city to court if they tried to ban large stores? So San Luis Mayor Nieves Riedel looks like she has no idea what she is doing, and has whimsically approved a major development that two weeks ago she wanted nothing to do with Now the Mayor has to repeal the size cap, and won’t it be interesting to see what rationale she comes up with to do that? Maybe she ought to ask Wal-Mart’s lawyer to write her speech for her.
When Mayor Riedel runs again for office, she might want to contact Wal-Mart for a major contribution. One can only speculate on why a city council would reverse its decision so fast, and what was used to “convince” elected officials to behave so erratically. One thing’s for certain. Every small business in the San Luis downtown should stop paying their dues to the Chamber of Commerce, and suggest that the Chamber look to Wal-Mart to pay for the Chamber’s operating budget.