East side, West side, all around that town. It was Wal-Mart’s original plan to open two new supercenters in Norman, OK on the same day this fall. But local residents in this Mart-saturated community have snagged those plans. The 150,000 s.f. Wal-Mart on the east side has begun construction, but the news is not so good 3 miles away on the West Side (see July 3, 1998 newsflash below), where a car dealer sold 13 acres of land to Wal-Mart’s real estate people for $3.5 million — but no construction has taken place. A local citizen’s group in Norman has filed an initiative petition in an effort to call a citywide vote on a change to the city charter for Norman, OK. The charter change would require a citywide vote for any expenditure of public funds that would benefit a private enterprise. The citizens brought the charter change forward when Wal-Mart asked the city to spend $370,000 in public funds for street improvements near the store. Wal-Mart, the richest retailer in the world, later withdrew their “welfare” request due to the storm of public protest that followed their suggestion. A group of developers is now opposing the initiative petition. As a result, Wal-Mart superstore #1 is starting, but just a couple of miles away, #2 is stuck in turmoil. The citizens of Norman already have an existing Wal-Mart, which will presumably shut down when the superstores open.
Wal-Mart does not need public funds to pave the way for their unnecessary superstores. Local citizens groups should insist that companies like Wal-Mart pay for any road improvements needed to construct their stores.