In a classic triumph of money over community, the Citizens for Good Planning (aka Wal-Mart Stores, Inc) has added another Wal-Mart to the retail inventory of Fort Wal-Mart, CO, once known as Fort Collins, CO. In the April 6th ballot vote (see newsflash below), Wal-Mart walked away with a 16,028 to 12,201 vote margin, or 56.8% in favor of Wal-Mart. The bad news for Wal-Mart is that the company polled a negative vote of 43.2%. There is probably no other store in America that would cause 43.2% of the voters in a community to want to stop it from coming. The Citizens Against Regional Supercenters (CARS) can be consoled by the fact that more than 4 out of 10 voters did not want Wal-Mart expanding their presence in Fort Collins. As last reported, Wal-Mart outspent the CARS by roughly a 25 to 1 margin. Final campaign finance reports may indicate that Wal-Mart spent far in excess of the $82,814 that the company had declared as of late March. The Wal-Mart citizen’s group spent most of its money on the marketing services of a local public relations firm. This referendum may turn out to have been the most expensive in the history of Fort Collins. The most ever spent in a referendum before was $100,000. The Wal-Mart victory at the polls was accomplished without a single check from the citizens of Fort Collins, according to a CARS spokesperson.
Planning to go to the ballot? Be sure to call upon the developer or anchor store to limit outside spending on the referendum. Do this at the outset of the campaign, not at the end. Ask Wal-Mart or Home Depot not to use corporate money in the campaign, but to let real local citizens battle it out on a level playing field.